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

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday. The brokerage presently has a $92.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 12.76% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “In third-quarter 2018, Lithia Motors’ earnings came in higher than both the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the prior-year quarter figure. The company is poised to gain from the expansion of its business through acquisitions and store openings. This is aiding the company in expanding customer and revenue base. Also, adequate free cash flow enables Lithia Motors to opt for share repurchase programs and pay dividends. However, a continuous rise in SG&A expense primarily due to acquisition expenses and insurance reserves is hampering the company’s profit margin.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on LAD. Stephens downgraded shares of Lithia Motors from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 25th. ValuEngine downgraded shares of Lithia Motors from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 25th. Craig Hallum cut their price target on shares of Lithia Motors from $120.00 to $94.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a report on Thursday, July 26th. Buckingham Research cut their price objective on Lithia Motors from $129.00 to $100.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, July 26th. Finally, Morgan Stanley cut their price objective on Lithia Motors from $126.00 to $107.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, August 15th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the stock. Lithia Motors presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $103.80.

Shares of NYSE LAD opened at $81.59 on Wednesday. Lithia Motors has a twelve month low of $72.85 and a twelve month high of $127.99. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.07, a current ratio of 1.20 and a quick ratio of 0.23. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.89 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.72, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 0.66 and a beta of 1.38.

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 24th. The company reported $2.83 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.53 by $0.30. Lithia Motors had a net margin of 2.56% and a return on equity of 20.75%. The company had revenue of $3.09 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.17 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $2.18 EPS. Lithia Motors’s revenue was up 15.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Lithia Motors will post 9.86 EPS for the current year.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 2.9% in the 1st quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 187,889 shares of the company’s stock valued at $18,887,000 after purchasing an additional 5,321 shares during the period. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB increased its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 37.0% in the 2nd quarter. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB now owns 5,558 shares of the company’s stock valued at $526,000 after purchasing an additional 1,500 shares during the period. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan increased its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 44.3% in the 2nd quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan now owns 13,850 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,309,000 after purchasing an additional 4,250 shares during the period. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC increased its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 15.3% in the 2nd quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 6,920 shares of the company’s stock valued at $654,000 after purchasing an additional 920 shares during the period. Finally, Hodges Capital Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Lithia Motors in the 2nd quarter valued at about $8,882,000.

Lithia Motors Company Profile

Lithia Motors, Inc operates automotive franchises, and retails new and used vehicles in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Domestic, Import, and Luxury. It sells new and used cars, replacement parts, vehicle service contracts, vehicle protection products, and credit insurance products; provides vehicle maintenance, warranty, paint, and repair services; and arranges related financing.

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