U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 25 mins

Group 1 Automotive 4Q profit misses Street

HOUSTON (AP) -- Auto dealer Group 1 Automotive Inc. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter net income fell 18 percent as expenses rose and impairment charges increased.

The Houston company earned $17.1 million, or 70 cents per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That's down from $20.9 million, or 90 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding impairment charges, severance costs and other items, earnings were 99 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet predicted higher earnings of $1.19 per share.

Group 1's stock dropped $4.89, or 7.3 percent, to $61.76 in midday trading. The shares have traded between $43.63 and $69.48 over the last year.

Revenue increased 19 percent to $1.94 billion from $1.63 billion as new and used vehicle sales climbed. This met Wall Street's expectations.

The average price for used vehicles rose 2.7 percent to $20,977.

For the year, Group 1 earned $100.2 million, or $4.19 per share. In the prior year it earned $82.4 million, or $3.47 per share.

Adjusted earnings were $4.53 per share.

Annual revenue rose 23 percent to $7.48 billion from $6.08 billion.

Group 1 Automotive owns and runs 120 auto dealerships, 156 franchises and 31 collision centers in the U.S. and U.K.