Auto retailer Lithia Motors profit beats on strong demand, higher prices By Reuters

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(Reuters) -Lithia Motors Inc topped Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profit on Wednesday as the auto retailer benefited from strong demand and higher vehicle prices.

A global semiconductor chip shortage has created a supply crunch and forced automakers to raise prices, a move that is aiding earnings for the sector.

Lithia said its total vehicle gross profit per vehicle rose 18.7% to $4,392 in the quarter.

This results also come at a time when low-interest rates and a preference for private vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic is also boosting sales.

The company said new vehicle retail sales jumped 59.7% in the quarter ended March 31, while used vehicle retail sales rose 54.6%.

Net income was $156.2 million, or $5.81 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $46.2 million, or $1.97 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue surged 55% to $4.34 billion.

Excluding items, the company earned $5.89 per share, compared with a Refinitiv IBES estimate of $4.76.

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