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Penske 2Q Profit Up 34% On Higher Used, Luxury Car Sales

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Penske Automotive Group Inc.'s (PAG) second-quarter profit rose a better-than-expected 34% as higher sales of used and luxury cars helped offset supply-chain disruptions caused by the earthquake in Japan. The automotive sector has been mostly on the mend over the past few months, which has helped sales at Penske and prompted a number of acquisitions. Moody's Investors Service earlier this month upgraded the company's speculative-grade rating a notch, citing the auto dealer's improving performance amid a rebound in new car sales. "Although we faced a challenging inventory situation as a result of the Japan earthquake, our business model continued to prove its resiliency," Chairman Roger Penske said, adding higher sales of used and luxury vehicles helped boost margins despite an overall drop in new units sold. Penske, the second-biggest auto dealership in the U.S. by revenue behind AutoNation Inc. (AN), posted a profit of $39.6 million, or 43 cents a share, up from $29.4 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 11% to $2.89 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 38-cent per-share profit on revenue of $2.98 billion. Gross margin edged up to 16.1% from 15.9% amid higher average transaction prices. New-vehicle revenue, the company's biggest top-line contributor, rose 8.2%, while used-vehicle sales jumped 20%. Service and parts revenue increased 7.5%, or 6% on a same-store basis. Penske's shares closed at $23.40 Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has gained 92% over the past year. -By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909;

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