Lithia posts its fifth-straight profitable quarter

Lithia Motors reeled off its fifth-straight profitable quarter and remains on course to reach or exceed 2007's $2.6 revenue mark.

Propelled by a 28 percent jump in same-store new vehicle sales, the Medford-based auto retailer reported 29 percent growth in third quarter revenue per share earnings increased 69 percent. Lithia's profit for the quarter ending Sept. 30 was $16.6 million, or 62 cents a share, compared with $9.8 million, or 37 cents a share, in 2010. Revenue grew to $737.9 million from $573 million as

"It's the best we've done in a long time," said Lithia Chairman Sid DeBoer. "Our plan is in place and people are executing. We now have the lowest selling, general administrative and expense cost among the public retailers in the industry. It's been a dramatic turn around from where we were three years ago."

Slimmed down by about 30 percent in the number of stores and 11 states instead of 15 in 2008, Lithia has put more power than ever in the hands of its local managers.

"I gave up on centralizing the local control of each store," DeBoer said. "I learned that's not effective after I exhausted all the possibilities. Now each store manager has more control, the culture is really blossoming and people are taking charge. That's why we've been able to cut overhead and our management group. The controls we use to think we needed, we don't need."

—Greg Stiles

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