Asbury Automotive 3Q profit falls slightly


DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Auto dealership chain Asbury Automotive Group Inc. said Wednesday that its third-quarter profit fell slightly, as inventory problems with Japanese brand vehicles cut into its sales.

Asbury earned $12.3 million, or 38 cents per share, down less than 2 percent from $12.5 million, or 38 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it posted an adjusted profit from continuing operations of $14.3 million, or 44 cents per share, up from an adjusted $12.7 million, or 39 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue rose 5.2 percent to $1.07 billion from $1.02 billion.

The results were roughly in line with Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 44 cents per share on $1.06 billion in revenue, according to a FactSet poll.

New- vehicle revenue was relatively flat at $563.1 million, while used-vehicle revenue rose 15 percent to $326.7 million.

Asbury said its supply of Japanese vehicles was severely limited during the quarter. Automakers such as Toyota and Honda have struggled with continued parts shortages and production problems in the months since Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March.

But company officials said inventory levels of Japanese vehicles at its dealerships are on the rise and are beginning to be more appropriately aligned with consumer demand. The company expects to continue rebuilding its inventories through the first quarter of next year.

In midday trading, Asbury shares fell 55 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $19.25.