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Daily Memo

THE — VALLEY — — Lithia Motors continues to have rising profits

Lithia Motors made $4.96 million in the first three months of 2000, the Medford-based auto dealership company reported Wednesday.

The profits break down to 37 cents a share, topping analysts expectations by three cents. The company has beaten consensus estimates for 14 straight quarters.

Profits for the first quarter of 1999 were $3.03 million or 29 cents a share.

Lithia's gross profit margins continued to improve, increasing from 15.7 percent in the first quarter of 1999 to 15.9 percent for the first three months of 2000.

Quarterly revenues were $395.6 million, up from $224.1 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Lithia has 45 dealerships in six Western states, 17 more than it had a year ago. It purchased 14 of those; three more were created by restructuring current operations.