HOUSTON — Group 1 Automotive’s third-quarter profit rose from $21.49 million a year ago to $31.33 million in the third quarter behind surging new-vehicle sales and record-setting performance by its F&I operations.

Group 1’s net income in the third quarter jumped by 31.6 percent from a year ago to $31.3 million. The dealer group also posted a new record in year-to-date net income, which rose 31.4 percent from the first nine months of 2011.

“Group 1 reported all-time, record-setting revenues, gross profit, net income and diluted earnings per common share in the third quarter, driven by strong growth in all segments of the business, including record results in finance and insurance,” said Earl J. Hesterberg, Group 1’s president and chief executive officer. “Group 1’s new vehicle unit sales continue to outpace industry retail sales, reflecting the strength of our brand mix and strong execution by our operating team.”

Revenue rose 25 percent from a year ago to $1.98 billion, while total gross profit grew 17.7 percent from the same period last year. New-vehicle gross profit increased 18.5 percent, with the company retailing 34 percent more units.

Used-vehicle retail sales were up 19.5 percent, which drove a 17.7 percent increase gross profit and a 22.6 percent increase in used revenue.

The big news was the $64 increase in F&I profit per vehicle retailed, which climbed to an all-time record of $1,220 behind improved penetration rates for both finance and vehicle service contracts.

“I am especially proud of the growth our team has delivered in used retail unit sales, where we have significantly outperformed the market this year as well,” Hesterberg said.