Medford's Lithia reports big jump in auto earnings

Lithia Motors today reported third-quarter earnings of $9.8 million, a jump of more than 71 percent from $5.7 million a year earlier.

The Medford-based auto retailer said improved vehicle sales boosted revenue 14.7 percent to $582.7 million, compared to $508.0 million a year earlier.

Lithia earned 37 cents per share for the quarter ending Sept. 30, compared to 40 cents per share in 2009. There were 23 percent more shares outstanding than a year earlier following an equity stock offering.

It was the sixth straight quarter in which continued operations turned a profit.

Same-store sales increased 12 percent, including growth of 8 percent in new vehicle sales and 2.5 percent in service, body and parts sales. Unfinanced new vehicle inventory totaled $65.2 million at the end of the quarter, an increase of $33.6 million from June 30.

"Despite a difficult comparison due to the Cash for Clunkers program last year, we grew same store sales in all categories," Lithia's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said.

— Greg Stiles

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