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Penske 4Q net income rises on higher vehicle sales

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Penske Automotive Group Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 2 percent, helped by steep jumps in vehicle demand in the U.S. and abroad.

The Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based auto retailer earned $48.6 million, or 54 cents per share, up from $47.7 million, or 53 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Excluding discontinued operations, the company posted a profit of 57 cents per share in the recent quarter.

Revenue jumped 18 percent to $3.37 billion.

The results beat Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 52 cents per share on $3.31 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Penske said total retail vehicle sales increased 19.3 percent to 81,383, as unit sales of new vehicles rose 22 percent and sales of used vehicles increased 16 percent. The average price per new vehicle sold was relatively flat compared with a year ago, while the average price of used vehicles sold rose 2.5 percent.

Sales at stores open at least a year increased 11.4 percent. That is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes stores that recently opened or closed.

The recent quarter's results also included 1 cent per share in cleanup costs related to Superstorm Sandy.

For the full year, Penske earned $185.5 million, or $2.05 per share, up from $176.9 million, or $1.94 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose to $13.16 billion from $11.13 billion.

Penske shares fell 64 cents to $32.93 in midday trading.