Sonic Automotive Inc. (SAH) Upgraded to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Sonic Automotive Inc. (NYSE:SAH) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Sonic Automotive is poised to benefit from capital deployment strategies and different initiatives undertaken to boost its performance. The company’s earnings per share are expected to increase in 2016. However, Sonic Automotive’s extensive merchandise inventory raises concerns. Moreover, a highly competitive industry and fluctuations in foreign exchange rate remain headwinds. Sonic Automotive’s earnings estimates have been stable lately. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Shares of Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) opened at 18.20 on Friday. Sonic Automotive has a one year low of $15.68 and a one year high of $25.77. The stock has a market cap of $827.14 million, a PE ratio of 9.26 and a beta of 1.94. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $17.26 and its 200-day moving average price is $17.63.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $0.50 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.50. Sonic Automotive had a return on equity of 14.65% and a net margin of 0.99%. The business earned $2.38 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.48 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.46 EPS. Sonic Automotive’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts predict that Sonic Automotive will post $2.10 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a $0.05 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $0.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.09%. Sonic Automotive’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 10.26%.

In related news, insider O Bruton Smith purchased 50,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 24th. The stock was acquired at an average price of $16.83 per share, for a total transaction of $841,500.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 525,242 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $8,839,822.86. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. 29.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. HBK Investments L P bought a new position in Sonic Automotive during the first quarter worth $985,000. Menta Capital LLC bought a new position in Sonic Automotive during the first quarter worth $410,000. LSV Asset Management raised its position in Sonic Automotive by 14.8% in the second quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 1,384,131 shares of the company’s stock worth $23,682,000 after buying an additional 178,025 shares during the period. Suntrust Banks Inc. raised its position in Sonic Automotive by 16.1% in the second quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. now owns 100,235 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,714,000 after buying an additional 13,874 shares during the period. Finally, A.R.T. Advisors LLC bought a new position in Sonic Automotive during the first quarter worth $867,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 65.88% of the company’s stock.

About Sonic Automotive

Sonic Automotive, Inc is an automotive retailer in the United States. The Company’s operating segments include Franchised Dealerships and EchoPark. The Company’s Franchised Dealerships segment consists of traditional retail automotive franchises that sell new and used vehicles, replacement parts and vehicle repair and maintenance services, and finance and insurance products.

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