AutoNation earnings beat Wall Street estimates

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Mike Jackson, AutoNation's chief executive Mike Jackson, AutoNation's chief executive
SummaryThe group also said that it will change the branding of 210 of its stores to include the name AutoNation.

ignore when deciding whether to buy a new car.

Jackson said auto manufacturers have never been better balanced in terms of matching vehicle production with demand, meaning they do not have to pile on incentives, which harm a used car's residual value. He said 2013 U.S. sales of about 15.5 million will be attained without hefty incentives.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based AutoNation reported fourth quarter net income of $83.2 million, or 67 cents per share, versus $69.4 million, or 49 cents per share a year ago.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $4.17 billion, up from $3.68 billion a year before. New vehicle sales rose 19 percent to $2.48 billion.

Excluding one-time items, AutoNation's earnings per share of 67 cents beat analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S expectations of 64 cents.

AutoNation repurchased 1.3 million shares for $49 million in the fourth quarter, at an average price of $39.21 per share. In 2012, it repurchased 16.6 million shares for $581 million, or $34.89 per share.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Grant McCool and Nick Zieminski)

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