Sonic Automotive says Q4 net income surged 68% to $96.3 million

David Beckam

Sonic Automotive Inc. said fourth-quarter net income surged 68 percent to $96.3 million as the auto retailer benefited from soaring gross profits on both new- and used-vehicle sales and saw boosts in finance and insurance and parts and service revenues.

Total revenue during the quarter rose 14 percent to $3.18 billion, Sonic said in a statement Wednesday.

The public retailer’s franchised dealership gross profit per vehicle on both new and used vehicles more than doubled, despite fewer sales amid continuing new-vehicle supply constraints. The group’s standalone EchoPark used-vehicle stores generated record fourth-quarter revenue of $579.2 million, but higher expenses led to a $26.7 million loss for the unit.

“Sonic delivered all-time record revenues and earnings for the full year, completed the largest acquisition in company history, and executed on our EchoPark expansion plan, exceeding our previously stated target of reaching 25 percent of the U.S. population by year end,” CEO David Smith said in a statement Wednesday.

In December, Sonic bought RFJ Auto Partners Holdings Inc., including 22 franchised dealerships in Texas, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Missouri and Indiana and 11 used-vehicle stores in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Also in the fourth quarter, Sonic bought Cook Volkswagen in Fallston, Md., and Bobby Ford Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Sealy, Texas. In January, the group added Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango, N.Y.

It also expanded its EchoPark network in the fourth quarter to reach 35 locations. Sonic announced it had opened EchoPark delivery centers in December in Chattanooga; Huntsville, Ala.; and Baton Rouge, La.; in November in Augusta, Ga.; and in October in Metairie, La., near New Orleans.

Shares of Sonic were up .09 percent to $54.04 in after hours trading Wednesday.

• Q4 revenue: $3.18 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier

• Q4 net income: $96.3 million, up 68 percent from a year earlier

• Q4 adjusted pretax income from continuing operations: $145.4 million, up 70 percent from a year earlier

• Q4 vehicle sales: Franchised dealerships sold 49,118 new and used vehicles, down 7.4 percent. EchoPark stores sold 15,649 used vehicles, up 5.4 percent.

• 2021 revenue: $12.4 billion, up 27 percent from a year earlier

• 2021 net income: $348.9 million. It posted a net loss of $51.4 million in 2020.

• 2021 adjusted pretax income from continuing operations: $481.5 million, up 114 percent from a year earlier

• 2021 vehicle sales: Franchised dealerships sold 208,815 vehicles, new and used, up 7 percent. EchoPark locations sold 77,835 used vehicles, up 36 percent.

• Records: Fourth-quarter and full-year revenue, fourth-quarter and full-year net income from continuing operations, all-time quarterly F&I gross profit per vehicle of $2,415 and fourth-quarter EchoPark revenue, among many others

• Ranking: Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., ranked No. 7 on Automotive News‘ most recent list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 93,281 new vehicles in 2020. RFJ Auto Partners ranked No. 42 on that list, with new-vehicle retail sales of 19,705 in 2020.

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