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UPDATE 1-New cars drive Lithia Motors 2nd-qtr profit
July 25, 2012 / 12:34 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-New cars drive Lithia Motors 2nd-qtr profit

* Sees FY12 EPS $2.69-$2.75 vs $2.45-$2.53 prior view

* Q2 adj EPS $0.76 vs $0.54 year-ago

* Q2 rev $847.1 mln vs $672.5 mln year-ago

* New vehicle retail rev up 35 pct (Adds details, background, share price)

July 25 (Reuters) - Auto dealer Lithia Motors Inc posted a rise in quarterly profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast as higher demand for new cars spurred sales.

Unlike most large U.S. auto dealer groups, cars and trucks made by U.S. automakers account for most of Lithia’s new-vehicle sales.

Lower gas prices in the second quarter have fueled new auto sales -- an early sign of consumer spending -- in the United States which are on track to score their best year since 2007.

Lithia, the ninth-largest U.S. auto dealer, said it now expects to earn between $2.69 and $2.75 per share for the full year 2012, from an earlier forecast of $2.45 to $2.53 per share.

Net income from continuing operations rose to $20.5 million, or 78 cents per share, for the second quarter, from $14.7 million, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Lithia earned 76 cents per share.

Total revenue rose 26 percent to $847.1 million. Revenue from its new vehicle retail segment -- which accounts for more than half of total revenue -- rose 35 percent to $470.4 million.

The company’s shares, which have gained more than 80 percent in value since touching a year-low in October, closed at $24.79 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Akshay Lodaya)

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