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Sonic Automotive sales increased; profits fell in Q4

By Caroline McMillan Portillo
cmcmillan@charlotteobserver.com

Sales increased but profits fell at Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive during the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter in 2012, the company reported Wednesday.

Revenue during the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, was more than $2.3 billion, compared to nearly $2.2 billion during the same quarter last year, an increase of about 6 percent.

Sonic Automotive’s profits fell nearly 8 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago, from $30 million to $28 million.

Much focus this past quarter has been on moving dealerships toward Sonic Automotive’s new “True Price” structure, which would eliminate the back-and-forth haggling over a price, a process that Sonic executives say often causes the customer to distrust the dealer.

The dealerships are also being trained to use Apple products to complete sales, which can drastically decrease the amount of time a customer has to spend on paperwork, executives have said.

The Fortune 500 automotive dealer, one of the nation’s largest, sold 34,000 new cars in the fourth quarter for a total of more than 132,000 new cars sold in 2013.

That’s about the same number of new cars sold during the fourth quarter of 2012. Year over year, Sonic Automotive saw an increase in new car sales of about 3 percent, from the nearly 129,000 new cars sold in 2012.

Used car sales during the fourth quarter this year increased by 10 percent, with 26,400 used cars sold during the fourth quarter in 2013, compared to the 23,900 sold during the same quarter in 2012.

The company’s quarterly earnings call will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

McMillan Portillo: 704-358-6045 Twitter: @cbmcmillan
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