Sonic Automotive 3Q profit falls on debt costs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Auto dealer Sonic Automotive Inc. said Tuesday that third-quarter income fell 48 percent, dragged down by the cost of buying back company debt.

Net income was $10 million, or 18 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compared with $19.4 million, or 33 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

A 10 percent drop in the number of outstanding shares since last year boosted per-share results by about 3 cents.

The company said that excluding items such as a pretax charge of $18.5 million for buying back senior convertible notes that could have diluted the value of current stock, it would have earned 37 cents per share.

Analysts, who usually exclude special items, had expected 42 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $2.15 billion, from $1.93 billion last year. Analysts expected $2.21 billion.

Retail sales of new vehicles rose 25 percent, and used-vehicle sales increased 7 percent.

Shares of the Charlotte-based company fell 11 cents to $18.06 in morning trading. The stock has traded between $11.88 and $19.96 in the past 52 weeks, and started the day up about 22 percent since the beginning of 2012.