S&P upgrades outlook on Group 1

NEW YORK -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services upgraded its rating outlook on Group 1 Automotive Inc. Tuesday, saying that the automotive retailer's credit measures have improved since the recession and may make further gains soon.

The rating agency upgraded its rating outlook on the Houston-based company to positive from stable. The company's junk-grade "BB" corporate credit rating and all other related issue-level ratings on the company's debt are unchanged.

S&P said there is a one-in-three likelihood that it would raise the rating in the year ahead based on certain performance measures and other assessments.

Group 1's credit measures have shown steady improvement since the recession because of stronger vehicle sales and credit markets, the rating agency said. S&P believes those measures could get modestly better in the year ahead because of the company's resilient business model, focused financial policy and demonstrated operating expertise.

Group 1's shares rose 93 cents to close at $61.50. The stock has traded between $33.31 and $61.34 in the past 52 weeks.