Lithia reports profit

Lithia Motors capped a strong 2010 comeback with net earnings of $5.6 million, or 21 cents per share, in the fourth quarter on sales of $555.6 million.

For all of 2010, the Medford-based auto retailer earned $13.72 million, nearly 50 percent more than its $9.15 million 2009 profit. Revenue for 2010 grew 19.7 percent to $2.13 billion from $1.78 billion 2009. Fourth quarter revenue grew 30.8 percent

Lithia said its new vehicle same-store sales increased 34.4 percent, used vehicle retail same-store sales increased 21.1 percent and service related revenue grew 5.4 percent.

"The economic recovery continued to accelerate through the fourth quarter," said Sid DeBoer, Lithia Motors' chairman and chief executive officer. "All states we operate in posted double-digit increases in same-store sales. For the full year, our adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations increased 71 percent. This improvement is a testament to the earnings potential Lithia can realize as we increase our market share in an improving economy."

Lithia also announced it would pay a 5 cent per share dividend March 25 to shareholders of record March 11.

— Greg Stiles

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