Auto retailer AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) reported second-quarter earnings this morning that crushed consensus estimates. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) came in at $0.66 versus a consensus estimate of $0.59. Revenue totaled $3.9 billion compared with an estimate of $3.77 billion. EPS on a GAAP basis totaled $0.64.
The company’s revenue was 17% higher than a year ago due largely to sales of new cars. AutoNation sells cars from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Toyota Motors Corp. (NYSE: TM), Honda Motor Corp. (NYSE: HMC) and many other makers at 260 retail locations in the United States.
Earlier this month, AutoNation reported that sales of domestic vehicles rose 25% year-over-year in June, while import sales rose 56%, and premium luxury sales rose 20%. For AutoNation’s second fiscal quarter of 2012, domestic sales rose 31%, import sales rose 47%, and premium luxury sales rose 18% year-over-year. The company’s CEO said today:
We continued to see a strong new vehicle selling environment in the second quarter, supported by genuine replacement demand, a healthy credit environment, and accelerated product offerings. We are expecting industry new vehicle sales to reach mid-14 million units in 2012.
AutoNation’s estimate of 2012 sales is inline with recent estimates from both Ford and GM. But it is higher than an estimate of 14.1 million units from Edmunds.com, which notes that auto sales have traditionally been linked to consumer confidence. And none of the recent surveys of consumers displays strong confidence in the U.S. economy.
Shares of AutoNation posted a new 52-week high yesterday and are up another 1.3% at $43.00 in the premarket this morning. The 52-week range is $30.46 to $42.84.