FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — AutoNation Inc. reported a profit of $65 million from continuing operations for the third quarter 2009, compared to a net loss of $1.40 billion in the year-ago period.

AutoNation’s third quarter 2009 revenue totaled $2.9 billion, compared to $3.4 billion in the year-ago period, driven primarily by lower vehicle sales.

The nation’s largest automotive retailer also reported revenue of $95.7 million in the finance and insurance segment, down 16 percent from $113.9 million posted in the year-ago period. On a year-over-year basis, the company reported F&I revenue of $261.9 million, down 31 percent from $379.6 million in 2008.

"Our third quarter profitability improved from third quarter 2008 despite substantially lower new-vehicle industry volume compared to last year. Cash for Clunkers was a highly effective stimulus program that provided a much needed lift in auto sales and has set the stage going forward for a gradual recovery of new-vehicle sales," said Mike Jackson, AutoNation’s chairman and CEO.

"We expect that the automotive retail market will remain challenging throughout the remainder of 2009 with a gradual recovery beginning in 2010, as the U.S. economy, consumer confidence and credit markets improve, we expect to be well-positioned to capitalize on these trends," he added.

For the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2009, AutoNation reported net income from continuing operations of $172 million, compared to a net loss from continuing operations of $1.29 billion in the prior year. The auto retailer’s revenue for the nine-month period ended totaled $7.9 billion, down 26 percent compared to $10.8 billion in the prior year.