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Sonic Posts 3Q Profit

October 29, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sonic Automotive Inc. reported a third quarter profit of $18.4 million from continuing operations, up from a loss of $15.1 million in the year-ago period.

The nation’s third largest automotive retailer reported total revenue of $1.52 billion in the third quarter, down slightly from $1.62 billion in year-ago period.

Sonic reported revenue of $41.3 million in the finance and insurance segment, down from $43.6 million in the year-ago period. On a year-over-year basis, the company reported F&I revenue of $110.6 million, down from $139.4 million in 2008.

"The combination of increased customer traffic from the CARS program and the continued execution of our e-commerce strategies resulted in Sonic posting its strongest year-over-year new-vehicle performance so far this year. We have now had eight consecutive months of new-car market share gains," said B. Scott Smith, Sonic’s president.

Despite Smith’s optimistic attitude, the company posted new vehicle sales of $825.4 million in the third quarter, a drop of 12 percent from $942.5 million in the year-ago period.

However, used-vehicle sales rose to $365.5 million, an increase of 18 percent from $308.2 million. Overall used vehicle unit volume was up 25 percent in the third quarter.

"Our used-vehicle volume continued to grow throughout the quarter despite the heavy emphasis on new-vehicle sales stemming from the CARS program,” said Jeff Dyke, Sonic’s executive vice president of operations.

For the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2009, Sonic reported net income from continuing operations of $25.3 million, up from $16.3 million in the year-ago period. The auto retailer’s revenue for the nine-month period totaled $4.2 billion, down from $5.1 billion in the prior year.

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