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Lithia reports record profits

Lithia Motors' numbers soared to record levels in the final three months of 2013, pushing the company to sales of more than $4 billion for the year.

The Medford auto retailer topped off a strong year, reporting adjusted net income of $25.7 million, or 98 cents per share, up 33 percent from $19.3 million, or 74 cents per share, for the final three months of 2012. Total revenue grew 16.8 percent to $1.025 billion for the quarter.

For all of 2013, Lithia Motors said Wednesday its revenue surpassed $4 billion, a 20.8 percent gain over 2012's $3.3 billion figure.

"We exceeded earnings expectations, but the top (revenue) lines are what we expected," CEO Bryan DeBoer said Wednesday morning.

"We're just going to keep our head down and focus on what we can control, and keep finding new ways to meet customer needs," he said.

During the final three months of 2013, Lithia saw new vehicle sales climb 15.6 percent to 17,004 units, while used vehicle retail sales grew 15.8 percent to 13,830.

For the year, Lithia sold 123,918 vehicles, up 19.6 percent from 2012, with new vehicles sales growing 20.1 percent to 66,857.

During a conference call with analysts DeBoer fielded questions concerning the company's surging used car sales.

"A lot of people are interested in the implications it has for our parts and service (components) in the future," he said.

"We believe extended hours and making sure we provide quick, expedient service at a good value will attract more business than our competitors," DeBoer said.

The company now operates 96 stores in 12 states. Locally, it employs 275 people at its downtown Medford headquarters and 450 more at its dealerships on Central Avenue, Riverside Avenue and Crater Lake Highway.

Lithia acquired seven stores during 2013 and the pace hasn't slowed in 2014.

"We believe the acquisition market remains active and anticipate 2014 will be a productive year for Lithia to grow our network of stores," DeBoer said.

The company recently added a Honda dealership on Maui in Hawaii and DeBoer said Lithia is hunting for more.

"Usually when we move into a state we want enough size to generate efficiencies," he said. "We'll continue to look for opportunities within the Hawaiian market."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.