AutoNation Inc. (AN) said new vehicle sales continued rising in March, climbing 19% to 22,246 units.
The automotive retailer warned its expects significant production disruption from Japanese auto manufacturers in the second and third quarters of 2011, but believes the auto-retail market and underlying consumer demand will continue to recover throughout 2011.
Its first-quarter new vehicle sales rose 23% to 54,198.
AutoNation still expects 12.8 million new sales for the industry in 2011. About 52% of AutoNation's 2010 sales were produced by Japanese manufacturers, and about two-thirds of those units are assembled in North America.
The company said in February its fourth-quarter profit climbed 9.1%, topping analysts' estimates, as the company reported higher sales of both new and used vehicles.
AutoNation, which runs 242 new-vehicle franchises in 15 states in the South and West, as well as its peers have seen their results improve lately, helped by the broad recovery of the automotive industry.
Shares closed at $35.62 and were inactive premarket. As of the close Friday, the stock had gained 96% the past year.
-By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; firstname.lastname@example.org