(Adds details on bid for Automotive Holdings Group)
May 15 (Reuters) - Australian auto retailer AP Eagers Ltd said on Wednesday said it expects its first-half fiscal 2019 operating profit before tax to be 7%-10% below last year, citing a challenging domestic car retail environment.
“External trading conditions in the national automotive retail sector remain challenging with the overall new vehicle sales market declining 8.1% to the end of April 2019,” it said in a statement.
Weaker consumer spending has hurt Australian automotive sales and has fueled market speculation about consolidation among car dealers.
Last week, AP Eagers offered to buy out Automotive Holdings Group Ltd (AHG) for A$836 million ($580.3 million), winning the backing of its smaller rival.
AHG on Tuesday cut its full-year net profit forecast, but said it didn’t expect the move to affect AP Eagers’ takeover. ($1 = 1.4407 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin)