MEDFORD, Ore. — Lithia Motors’ F&I operations realized a $52 increase in F&I profit per vehicle retailed, which settled in at $1,233 in the first quarter of 2015.
The group’s F&I performance, coupled with the $97 increase in used-vehicle gross profit per vehicle retailed ($2,602), helped the 130-store dealer group offset lower new-vehicle gross profit per unit, which fell $90 to $2,160.
“In the first quarter, the blended overall gross profit per unit was $3,646 compared to $3,599 last year, or an increase of $57 …,” said Bryan Deboer, Lithia’s president and CEO, during the group’s quarterly investor call on Tuesday. “While we continue to see lower new-vehicle gross profit per unit, this was more than offset by improvement in used-vehicle gross profit per unit and F&I per vehicle.”
Lithia Motors not only posted its best quarterly results since 2006, it also realized its highest first quarter adjusted net income in company history, which rose from $27.1 million in the year-ago period to $36.9 million. On per-share basis, earnings increased 35% from a year ago to $1.38 per share.
Revenue increased 66% from a year ago to approximately $1.8 million, with the group realizing double-digit increases in all of its four business lines on a same-store basis.
Total sales increased 11%, while new-vehicle revenues increased 11.3% on a same-store basis to $639,501. The average selling price increased 3%, while unit sales increased 8.5% from a year ago to 18,567 units.
Used-vehicle revenues increased 11.1% to $333,300, while the average selling price increased 4%. The dealer group also retailed 6% more used vehicles than a year ago, with the group selling 0.9 used vehicles for every new-vehicle sold.
Revenue from service, body and parts increased 11.1% from a year ago to $1.2 million, with revenues from customer pay and warranty-related work increasing 19% and 31%, respectively. Wholesale parts revenues also increased 5%, while body shop revenues showed a slight decrease of 3%.
“We delivered the best first quarter earnings in our company’s history, and the second best quarterly earnings ever,” Deboer noted. “For the fourth consecutive quarter, we achieved double-digit growth in same-store sales in all business lines. We remain focused on capturing additional market share, improving existing store results, and the continued success, integration and growth of DCH and actively seeking accretive acquisitions.”
Last June, Lithia agreed to buy DCH Auto Group, a 27-store operation with stores in California, New York and New Jersey. The acquisition made Lithia the fifth largest dealer group by store count.
“We believe that the integration of DCH has gone very smoothly,” Deboer said on Tuesday, noting that the group continues to explore other acquisitions.
“We are not solely looking at $500 million or $1 billion acquisition,” he added. “We’re still looking at our typical strategies where we buy $50 million to $70 million store size. And there is a pretty active market in that arena both in our exclusive markets and now in the metropolitan market.”