At one point the owner of more than 77 million AutoNation (AN) shares, Eddie Lampert has continually shrunk the holding since 2010, filing it down to 8.98% from 9.45% of the company after selling 973,747 shares this week, according to Real Time Picks.
This week marked the third period selling of AutoNation shares in two months for Lampert, who also made significant reductions on June 5 and June 10.
His July sales ranged in share price from $56.59 to $57.15 per share, giving the manager of hedge fund ESL Investments a significant gain on the holding. In first quarter 2010, his average sale price was $19 per share.
The moves come as Lampert this year increased his interest in Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD) and Sears Hometown & Outlets (SHOS), where he has led as chairman and CEO for more than a year. Lampert has plans to spin off Sears’ Auto Center business as well, he announced in the company’s first quarter earnings release on May 22. He also told investors that he believed 2014 would be the year that his changes at the company take hold and it “begins to clearly demonstrate the advantages of this transformation.”
AutoNation is the nation’s largest automotive retailer, which saw an 8% increase in revenue to $4.8 billion year over year, driven by new vehicles, parts and service, and finance and insurance. Its new vehicle unit sales increased 6% on a same-store basis year over year. EPS saw its 15th consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year growth as well.
In the past five years, AutoNation has increased its per-share revenue by 24.4%, EBITDA by 25.4%, free cash flow by 17.1% and book value by 4.9% annually.
AutoNation revenue and earnings growth history:
As of Friday, AutoNation’s share price is skimming a 10-year record high, while its P/S ratio at 0.4 is close to a two-year high. The company also has a P/E of 17.4 and P/B of 3.2.
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