Lithia Motors Earns 21 Cents Per Share on Record First Quarter Sales

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from Lithia Motors

    MEDFORD, Ore., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE:   LAD)
 today announced total sales increased 6% to $420.2 million from $395.6 million
 in the first quarter of 2000.  New vehicle sales decreased 1% and comprised
 51.2% of total sales vs. 55.1% in the same period last year.  Used vehicle
 sales increased 17% and comprised 32.6% of total sales vs. 29.5% in the first
 quarter last year.  Lithia retailed 8,854 used units vs. 8,732 new units, for
 a total of 17,586 new and used retail units this quarter, a 7% increase over
 the same period last year.  Parts and service sales also increased 17%,
 representing 10.7% of total sales up from 9.7% in the same period last year.
 Finance and Insurance sales increased 13.4% and finance and insurance sales
 per unit increased 6.4% to $867, an industry leading level among the publicly
 traded auto-retailers.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19990909/LITHIALOGO )
     Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sidney B. DeBoer, stated, "These
 results are stronger than expected at the beginning of the year, with both
 sales and earnings above forecast levels.  Earnings were $0.21 per share this
 quarter, exceeding First Call consensus estimates of $0.19 per share.  New
 vehicle sales were very strong in the first quarter of 2000 and made for a
 difficult comparison in the first quarter in 2001.  We are particularly
 encouraged by the strength of our March results and expect easier comparisons
 and stronger operating results in the coming three quarters."
     "The counter-cyclical nature of the used vehicle and parts and service
 businesses took center stage this quarter with solid gains in both segments.
 This is the first quarter that Lithia has sold more used vehicles than new
 vehicles since reporting as a public company.  With the shift in the revenue
 mix towards our higher margin business lines, including used cars, the gross
 margin improved this quarter by 50 basis points to 16.4% of sales compared to
 the same period last year.  Gross margin expansion is common in the auto-
 retailing business as new vehicle sales slow."
     "SG&A as a percentage of revenues increased to 13.1%.  We had forecast
 increased SG&A expense along with gross margin expansion in our year-end 2000
 conference call and earnings release.  Both our gross margin and SG&A numbers
 were slightly above forecast ranges, however, they served to cancel each other
 out at the operating income line with an operating margin of 2.8%, which was
 within forecast ranges.  Same-store retail sales declined by 6.9%, much better
 than our forecast for a 10 to 12% decline.  All business lines, other than new
 vehicle sales, showed positive same-store growth for the quarter."
     "Net income was $2.86 million, or $0.21 per diluted share on 13.8 million
 diluted shares outstanding.  This compares to net income in the first quarter
 of 2000 of $4.96 million or $0.37 per share on 13.5 million diluted shares.
 EBITDA was $13.8 million vs. $15.8 million in the same period last year.  Cash
 flow per share (net income plus depreciation and amortization) was $0.37 per
 share in the first quarter of 2001 versus $0.50 a year ago.  Cash flow per
 share was 76% higher than EPS for the quarter," concluded Sidney B. DeBoer.
     Jeffrey B. DeBoer, Senior Vice President and CFO added, "For the remainder
 of 2001, we are assuming approximately $250 - $300 million in annualized
 revenues from acquisitions.  Year to date we have closed on approximately
 $83 million in revenues.  These acquisitions, in total, should contribute
 approximately $150 to $200 million in revenues throughout 2001.  With our
 untapped acquisition facility of $130 million from Ford Credit and expected
 internal cash flow from operations, Lithia is well positioned to continue its
 current disciplined growth plan.  It is worth noting that despite two
 acquisitions in the first quarter of this year, our debt levels are lower than
 at the year-end 2000 due to aggressive debt repayments resulting in a long-
 term debt to total capitalization ratio of only 26% vs. 29% at year end.  This
 represents a 13% sequential reduction in long-term debt.  Our balance sheet
 remains one of the strongest in our sector, which enables us to continue to
 execute our acquisition plans in an environment which we expect to be
 increasingly attractive for completing deals."
     "We are providing guidance for the second quarter and full year 2001."
 
 
      FORWARD ESTIMATES
                                      2Q 2001                  2001
      Revenue                       $430 - 450M             $1.7 - 1.9B
      Diluted EPS                  $0.31 - 0.33            $1.25 - 1.30
      Gross Margin                 16.0 - 16.4%            16.0 - 16.4%
      SG&A                         12.6 - 13.0%            12.4 - 12.8%
      Operating Margin               2.8 - 3.0%              3.1 - 3.3%
      Flooring Interest Expense      1.0 - 1.2%              1.1 - 1.2%
      Same Store Sales                -6 to -8%               -5 to -8%
      Tax Rate                         38 - 39%                38 - 39%
 
 
     An additional 50 basis point reduction in interest rates has been factored
 into these estimates.
     The quarterly breakout for 2001 is estimated as follows for Diluted EPS:
 Q2; $0.31 - $0.33; Q3; $0.42 - $0.44; and Q4; $0.31 - $0.33.
     The above estimates are made by management based upon information
 available to it at this time.  The company in making these estimates assumes
 no burden to update these estimates during the quarter or year even if it
 appears actual results will differ materially from these estimates.
     Lithia Motors will be providing more detailed information on the results
 for the first quarter 2001 in its conference call scheduled for 11 a.m. PDT
 today.  The call can be accessed live by calling 973-872-3100.  To listen to a
 live webcast or hear a replay, log-on to: www.lithia.com -- go to About Lithia
 -- Investor Relations -- and click on the Live Conference Call icon.
     Lithia Motors, Inc., a Fortune 1000 Company, operates 114 franchises in
 California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and
 Alaska.  Lithia sells 26 brands of new vehicles at 56 stores and over the
 Internet through "Lithia.com -- America's Car & Truck Store."  Lithia also
 sells used vehicles; arranges finance, warranty, and credit insurance
 contracts; and provides vehicle parts, maintenance, and repair services at all
 of its locations.  Lithia retailed 68,126 new and used vehicles and had
 $1.66 billion in total revenue in 2000.
 
     This press release includes forward looking statements within the meaning
 of the "Safe-Harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform
 Act of 1995, which management believes are a benefit to shareholders.  These
 statements are necessarily subject to risk and uncertainty and actual results
 could differ materially due to certain risk factors, including without
 limitation economic conditions, acquisition risk factors and others set forth
 from time to time in the company's filings with the SEC.  Specific risks in
 this press release include company performance, sales, stated forward
 estimates and acquisition assumptions.
 
     For additional information on Lithia Motors, contact: Jeff DeBoer, Senior
 VP and Chief Financial Officer (541) 776-6868 (E-mail: invest@lithia.com) or
 Dan Retzlaff, Investor Relations at (541) 776-6819 or log-on to:
 www.lithia.com -- go to About Lithia -- Investor Relations.
 
 
     LITHIA MOTORS, INC.
     (In Thousands except per share and unit data)
 
     Unaudited                                   Three Months Ended
                                                 March 31,
                                                      2001           2000
     New Vehicle Sales                            $214,957       $218,009
     Used Vehicle Sales                            136,939        116,698
     Service & Parts Sales                          45,145         38,457
     Other Revenues                                 23,110         22,439
     Total Revenue                                $420,151       $395,603
     Cost of Sales                                 351,254        332,739
     Gross Profit                                   68,897         62,864
     SG&A Expense                                   55,038         47,201
     Depreciation                                    1,292          1,013
     Amortization                                      923            707
     Income from Operations                        $11,644        $13,943
     Flooring Interest Expense                       4,655          3,861
     Other Interest Expense                          2,267          1,795
     Other Income (Expense), net                       (79)           128
     Pre-Tax Profit                                 $4,643         $8,415
     Income Tax                                      1,788          3,451
     Income Tax Rate                                 38.5%          41.0%
     Net Profit                                     $2,855         $4,964
     Shares Outstanding                             13,772         13,496
     EPS                                             $0.21          $0.37
 
     Unit Sales:
     New                                             8,732          9,030
     Used - Retail                                   8,854          7,473
     Used - Wholesale                                4,325          4,040
 
     Average Selling Price:
     New                                           $24,617        $24,143
     Used - Retail                                  13,089         13,175
     Used - Wholesale                                4,867          4,515
 
     Key Financial Data:
     EBITDA                                        $13,780        $15,791
     Gross Profit Margin                             16.4%          15.9%
     SG&A as a % of Sales                            13.1%          11.9%
     Operating Margin                                 2.8%           3.5%
     Pre-Tax Margin                                   1.1%           2.1%
 
 
     Balance Sheet Highlights (Dollars in Thousands)
     Unaudited
                                                  March 31,     December 31,
                                                     2001           2000
      Cash & Cash Equivalents                      $28,315        $38,789
      Inventory                                    318,330        314,290
      Other Current Assets                          41,584         43,443
     Total Current Assets                          388,229        396,522
 
     Real Estate - Net                              64,181         60,788
     Equipment & Leases - net                       32,407         29,452
     Goodwill, net                                 138,264        133,871
     Other Assets                                    7,352          7,370
     Total Assets                                 $630,433       $628,003
 
      Floorplan Notes Payable                     $256,170       $255,137
      Other Current Liabilities                     45,033         42,468
     Total Current Liabilities                     301,203        297,605
 
     Used Vehicle Flooring                          63,000         59,000
     Real Estate Debt                               28,577         28,898
     Other Long-Term Debt                           34,721         43,566
     Other Liabilities                              20,719         17,159
 
     Total Liabilities                            $448,220       $446,228
 
     Shareholders Equity                           182,213        181,775
 
     TOTAL LIABILITIES &
      SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY                        $630,433       $628,003
 
     Other Balance Sheet Data (Dollars in Thousands)
 
     Current Ratio                                    1.3x           1.3x
     LT Debt/Total Cap.                                26%            29%
     [Excludes Used Vehicle Flooring]
     Working Capital                               $87,026        $98,917
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X10154686
 
 

SOURCE Lithia Motors
    MEDFORD, Ore., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE:   LAD)
 today announced total sales increased 6% to $420.2 million from $395.6 million
 in the first quarter of 2000.  New vehicle sales decreased 1% and comprised
 51.2% of total sales vs. 55.1% in the same period last year.  Used vehicle
 sales increased 17% and comprised 32.6% of total sales vs. 29.5% in the first
 quarter last year.  Lithia retailed 8,854 used units vs. 8,732 new units, for
 a total of 17,586 new and used retail units this quarter, a 7% increase over
 the same period last year.  Parts and service sales also increased 17%,
 representing 10.7% of total sales up from 9.7% in the same period last year.
 Finance and Insurance sales increased 13.4% and finance and insurance sales
 per unit increased 6.4% to $867, an industry leading level among the publicly
 traded auto-retailers.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19990909/LITHIALOGO )
     Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sidney B. DeBoer, stated, "These
 results are stronger than expected at the beginning of the year, with both
 sales and earnings above forecast levels.  Earnings were $0.21 per share this
 quarter, exceeding First Call consensus estimates of $0.19 per share.  New
 vehicle sales were very strong in the first quarter of 2000 and made for a
 difficult comparison in the first quarter in 2001.  We are particularly
 encouraged by the strength of our March results and expect easier comparisons
 and stronger operating results in the coming three quarters."
     "The counter-cyclical nature of the used vehicle and parts and service
 businesses took center stage this quarter with solid gains in both segments.
 This is the first quarter that Lithia has sold more used vehicles than new
 vehicles since reporting as a public company.  With the shift in the revenue
 mix towards our higher margin business lines, including used cars, the gross
 margin improved this quarter by 50 basis points to 16.4% of sales compared to
 the same period last year.  Gross margin expansion is common in the auto-
 retailing business as new vehicle sales slow."
     "SG&A as a percentage of revenues increased to 13.1%.  We had forecast
 increased SG&A expense along with gross margin expansion in our year-end 2000
 conference call and earnings release.  Both our gross margin and SG&A numbers
 were slightly above forecast ranges, however, they served to cancel each other
 out at the operating income line with an operating margin of 2.8%, which was
 within forecast ranges.  Same-store retail sales declined by 6.9%, much better
 than our forecast for a 10 to 12% decline.  All business lines, other than new
 vehicle sales, showed positive same-store growth for the quarter."
     "Net income was $2.86 million, or $0.21 per diluted share on 13.8 million
 diluted shares outstanding.  This compares to net income in the first quarter
 of 2000 of $4.96 million or $0.37 per share on 13.5 million diluted shares.
 EBITDA was $13.8 million vs. $15.8 million in the same period last year.  Cash
 flow per share (net income plus depreciation and amortization) was $0.37 per
 share in the first quarter of 2001 versus $0.50 a year ago.  Cash flow per
 share was 76% higher than EPS for the quarter," concluded Sidney B. DeBoer.
     Jeffrey B. DeBoer, Senior Vice President and CFO added, "For the remainder
 of 2001, we are assuming approximately $250 - $300 million in annualized
 revenues from acquisitions.  Year to date we have closed on approximately
 $83 million in revenues.  These acquisitions, in total, should contribute
 approximately $150 to $200 million in revenues throughout 2001.  With our
 untapped acquisition facility of $130 million from Ford Credit and expected
 internal cash flow from operations, Lithia is well positioned to continue its
 current disciplined growth plan.  It is worth noting that despite two
 acquisitions in the first quarter of this year, our debt levels are lower than
 at the year-end 2000 due to aggressive debt repayments resulting in a long-
 term debt to total capitalization ratio of only 26% vs. 29% at year end.  This
 represents a 13% sequential reduction in long-term debt.  Our balance sheet
 remains one of the strongest in our sector, which enables us to continue to
 execute our acquisition plans in an environment which we expect to be
 increasingly attractive for completing deals."
     "We are providing guidance for the second quarter and full year 2001."
 
 
      FORWARD ESTIMATES
                                      2Q 2001                  2001
      Revenue                       $430 - 450M             $1.7 - 1.9B
      Diluted EPS                  $0.31 - 0.33            $1.25 - 1.30
      Gross Margin                 16.0 - 16.4%            16.0 - 16.4%
      SG&A                         12.6 - 13.0%            12.4 - 12.8%
      Operating Margin               2.8 - 3.0%              3.1 - 3.3%
      Flooring Interest Expense      1.0 - 1.2%              1.1 - 1.2%
      Same Store Sales                -6 to -8%               -5 to -8%
      Tax Rate                         38 - 39%                38 - 39%
 
 
     An additional 50 basis point reduction in interest rates has been factored
 into these estimates.
     The quarterly breakout for 2001 is estimated as follows for Diluted EPS:
 Q2; $0.31 - $0.33; Q3; $0.42 - $0.44; and Q4; $0.31 - $0.33.
     The above estimates are made by management based upon information
 available to it at this time.  The company in making these estimates assumes
 no burden to update these estimates during the quarter or year even if it
 appears actual results will differ materially from these estimates.
     Lithia Motors will be providing more detailed information on the results
 for the first quarter 2001 in its conference call scheduled for 11 a.m. PDT
 today.  The call can be accessed live by calling 973-872-3100.  To listen to a
 live webcast or hear a replay, log-on to: www.lithia.com -- go to About Lithia
 -- Investor Relations -- and click on the Live Conference Call icon.
     Lithia Motors, Inc., a Fortune 1000 Company, operates 114 franchises in
 California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and
 Alaska.  Lithia sells 26 brands of new vehicles at 56 stores and over the
 Internet through "Lithia.com -- America's Car & Truck Store."  Lithia also
 sells used vehicles; arranges finance, warranty, and credit insurance
 contracts; and provides vehicle parts, maintenance, and repair services at all
 of its locations.  Lithia retailed 68,126 new and used vehicles and had
 $1.66 billion in total revenue in 2000.
 
     This press release includes forward looking statements within the meaning
 of the "Safe-Harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform
 Act of 1995, which management believes are a benefit to shareholders.  These
 statements are necessarily subject to risk and uncertainty and actual results
 could differ materially due to certain risk factors, including without
 limitation economic conditions, acquisition risk factors and others set forth
 from time to time in the company's filings with the SEC.  Specific risks in
 this press release include company performance, sales, stated forward
 estimates and acquisition assumptions.
 
     For additional information on Lithia Motors, contact: Jeff DeBoer, Senior
 VP and Chief Financial Officer (541) 776-6868 (E-mail: invest@lithia.com) or
 Dan Retzlaff, Investor Relations at (541) 776-6819 or log-on to:
 www.lithia.com -- go to About Lithia -- Investor Relations.
 
 
     LITHIA MOTORS, INC.
     (In Thousands except per share and unit data)
 
     Unaudited                                   Three Months Ended
                                                 March 31,
                                                      2001           2000
     New Vehicle Sales                            $214,957       $218,009
     Used Vehicle Sales                            136,939        116,698
     Service & Parts Sales                          45,145         38,457
     Other Revenues                                 23,110         22,439
     Total Revenue                                $420,151       $395,603
     Cost of Sales                                 351,254        332,739
     Gross Profit                                   68,897         62,864
     SG&A Expense                                   55,038         47,201
     Depreciation                                    1,292          1,013
     Amortization                                      923            707
     Income from Operations                        $11,644        $13,943
     Flooring Interest Expense                       4,655          3,861
     Other Interest Expense                          2,267          1,795
     Other Income (Expense), net                       (79)           128
     Pre-Tax Profit                                 $4,643         $8,415
     Income Tax                                      1,788          3,451
     Income Tax Rate                                 38.5%          41.0%
     Net Profit                                     $2,855         $4,964
     Shares Outstanding                             13,772         13,496
     EPS                                             $0.21          $0.37
 
     Unit Sales:
     New                                             8,732          9,030
     Used - Retail                                   8,854          7,473
     Used - Wholesale                                4,325          4,040
 
     Average Selling Price:
     New                                           $24,617        $24,143
     Used - Retail                                  13,089         13,175
     Used - Wholesale                                4,867          4,515
 
     Key Financial Data:
     EBITDA                                        $13,780        $15,791
     Gross Profit Margin                             16.4%          15.9%
     SG&A as a % of Sales                            13.1%          11.9%
     Operating Margin                                 2.8%           3.5%
     Pre-Tax Margin                                   1.1%           2.1%
 
 
     Balance Sheet Highlights (Dollars in Thousands)
     Unaudited
                                                  March 31,     December 31,
                                                     2001           2000
      Cash & Cash Equivalents                      $28,315        $38,789
      Inventory                                    318,330        314,290
      Other Current Assets                          41,584         43,443
     Total Current Assets                          388,229        396,522
 
     Real Estate - Net                              64,181         60,788
     Equipment & Leases - net                       32,407         29,452
     Goodwill, net                                 138,264        133,871
     Other Assets                                    7,352          7,370
     Total Assets                                 $630,433       $628,003
 
      Floorplan Notes Payable                     $256,170       $255,137
      Other Current Liabilities                     45,033         42,468
     Total Current Liabilities                     301,203        297,605
 
     Used Vehicle Flooring                          63,000         59,000
     Real Estate Debt                               28,577         28,898
     Other Long-Term Debt                           34,721         43,566
     Other Liabilities                              20,719         17,159
 
     Total Liabilities                            $448,220       $446,228
 
     Shareholders Equity                           182,213        181,775
 
     TOTAL LIABILITIES &
      SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY                        $630,433       $628,003
 
     Other Balance Sheet Data (Dollars in Thousands)
 
     Current Ratio                                    1.3x           1.3x
     LT Debt/Total Cap.                                26%            29%
     [Excludes Used Vehicle Flooring]
     Working Capital                               $87,026        $98,917
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X10154686
 
 SOURCE  Lithia Motors