AutoNation Inc. Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE:AN) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, January 26, 2012. AutoNation offers a range of automotive products and services, including new and used vehicles, parts and automotive repair, and maintenance services, as well as automotive finance and insurance products.

AutoNation, Inc. Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet.

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 48 cents per share, a rise of 6.7% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. The average estimate is the same as three months ago. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate was unchanged. It also has not changed during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 22.4% versus last year to $1.91.

Past Earnings Performance: Last quarter, the company saw profit of 48 cents per share versus a mean estimate of net income of 48 cents per share. This comes after two consecutive quarters of exceeding expectations.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: On average, analysts predict $3.5 billion in revenue this quarter, a rise of 7.7% from the year ago quarter. Analysts are forecasting total revenue of $13.64 billion for the year, a rise of 9.5% from last year’s revenue of $12.46 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts seem relatively indifferent about AutoNation with 10 of 14 analysts surveyed maintaining a hold rating.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 24.3% to $70.7 million (48 cents a share) from $56.9 million (38 cents a share) the year earlier, meeting analyst expectations. Revenue rose 6.7% to $3.49 billion from $3.27 billion.

Key Stats:

The company has seen net income rise in three straight quarters. Net income rose 52.3% in the second quarter and 25.7% in the first quarter.

Revenue has gone up for three straight quarters. It rose 7.3% in the second quarter from the year earlier and 16.3% in the first quarter.

Competitors to Watch: Group one Automotive, Inc. (NYSE:GPI), Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE:PAG), Sonic Automotive, Inc. (NYSE:SAH), Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE:ABG), Copart, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPRT), CarMax, Inc (NYSE:KMX), Lentuo Intl. Inc (ADR) (NYSE:LAS), Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE:LAD), AutoChina Intl. Ltd. (NASDAQ:AUTC), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Toyota (NYSE:T), Ford (NYSE:F), CarMax (NYSE:KMX), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) and America’s Car-Mart, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRMT).

Stock Price Performance: During October 24, 2011 to January 20, 2012, the stock price had fallen $5.58 (-13.7%) from $40.79 to $35.21. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between June 24, 2011 and July 7, 2011 when shares rose for nine-straight days, rising 14.1% (+$4.85) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between November 2, 2011 and November 10, 2011 when shares fell for seven-straight days, falling 11.8% (-$4.46) over that span.

(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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