Lithia Motors (LAD) Raised to Strong-Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a report published on Wednesday. They currently have $119.00 price target on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Lithia Motors is expected to benefit from the frequent acquisitions and store openings. In March, the company announced the acquisition of six auto stores from Prestige Family of Fine Cars in Bergen County, NJ, which are likely to generate steady state revenues of $900 million, annually. Further, this will diversify the company’s product offerings. Also, in order to boost shareholder confidence, the company frequently engages in dividend payouts and share-repurchase programs. Lithia Motors has also provided a strong fiscal 2018 guidance. Also, over a month, its shares have outperformed the industry it belongs to.”

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A number of other analysts also recently commented on LAD. Bank of America upgraded shares of Lithia Motors from an underperform rating to a neutral rating and set a $128.00 target price on the stock in a report on Monday, January 8th. Buckingham Research dropped their target price on shares of Lithia Motors from $137.00 to $131.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, February 15th. Stephens reiterated a buy rating on shares of Lithia Motors in a report on Thursday, February 15th. Morgan Stanley boosted their target price on shares of Lithia Motors from $116.00 to $126.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a report on Wednesday, March 14th. Finally, ValuEngine downgraded shares of Lithia Motors from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Monday, April 2nd. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, five have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $126.43.

LAD stock opened at $99.39 on Wednesday. Lithia Motors has a 52 week low of $86.05 and a 52 week high of $127.99. The stock has a market cap of $2,538.53, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.09, a P/E/G ratio of 0.48 and a beta of 1.72. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.95, a quick ratio of 0.28 and a current ratio of 1.21.

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, February 14th. The company reported $2.15 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.09 by $0.06. Lithia Motors had a net margin of 2.43% and a return on equity of 20.81%. The business had revenue of $2.70 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.70 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $1.86 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 18.0% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts expect that Lithia Motors will post 10.59 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 23rd. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 9th were given a $0.27 dividend. This represents a $1.08 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.09%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 8th. Lithia Motors’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 12.87%.

In other news, Director Kenneth E. Roberts sold 5,000 shares of Lithia Motors stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, January 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $126.00, for a total value of $630,000.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 105,064 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $13,238,064. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Company insiders own 5.95% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Lithia Motors by 15.1% in the fourth quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 626,421 shares of the company’s stock worth $71,155,000 after acquiring an additional 82,360 shares in the last quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System grew its position in Lithia Motors by 5.4% during the third quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 30,032 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,613,000 after purchasing an additional 1,532 shares in the last quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC grew its position in Lithia Motors by 35.9% during the third quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 126,213 shares of the company’s stock valued at $15,185,000 after purchasing an additional 33,369 shares in the last quarter. Wasatch Advisors Inc. grew its position in Lithia Motors by 141.9% during the fourth quarter. Wasatch Advisors Inc. now owns 129,037 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,657,000 after purchasing an additional 75,686 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Boston Partners grew its position in Lithia Motors by 7.5% during the fourth quarter. Boston Partners now owns 586,891 shares of the company’s stock valued at $66,665,000 after purchasing an additional 41,190 shares in the last quarter.

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Lithia Motors Company Profile

Lithia Motors, Inc is an operator of automotive franchises and a retailer of new and used vehicles and related services. As of February 28, 2017, it offered 30 brands of new vehicles and all brands of used vehicles in 154 stores in the United States and online at Lithia.com, DCHauto.com and CarboneCars.com.

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