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Lithia reports June sales gain, two acquisitions

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Lithia Motors Inc. reported Tuesday that vehicle sales increased in June compared with a year ago.

The Medford, Ore., dealership group, the third-largest U.S. new-vehicle retailer, also said it acquired Smolich Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge and Smolich Nissan in Bend, Ore. The move is estimated to generate $100 million in “steady state annualized revenues,” the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lithia credited “notable improvements” throughout its business lines, included a 23 percent gain in same-store used-vehicle sales last month. Same-store new-vehicle sales decreased by 15 percent, and overall same-store vehicle sales rose 3 percent. Service, body and parts sales showed a strong recovery in June, the company said, with same-store sales in that department down just 3 percent for the month.

That’s better than the steeper declines experienced earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Lithia’s same-store web traffic soared nearly 53 percent in June compared with the year-ago period.

“Lithia is primed for the second half of 2020 with the expansion of our proprietary ecommerce home channel and the further acceleration of our growth strategy,” Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said in the statement.

Stephens Inc. analyst Rick Nelson, in a report released Tuesday after the retailer’s filing, nearly doubled his second-quarter earnings per share estimate for Lithia from $1.37 to $2.65. The report cited “higher gross margins and aggressive expense reductions” as reasons for the improved outlook.

Lithia shares gained 1.4 percent to close at $160.18 in New York on Tuesday.

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