Group 1 Automotive (GPI) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Group 1 Automotive (NYSE:GPI) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Wednesday. They currently have $62.00 price target on the stock.

According to Zacks, “The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Group 1 Automotive’s annual earnings has been moving up. The company regularly opens new dealerships besides acquiring exiting ones. Last month, it opened three dealerships, of which two is in Texas and one in Brazil. Year to date, Group 1 acquired a total of 14 dealerships, with expected annual revenues of $530 million. It regularly acquires and divests dealerships and franchises to expand its business footprint. Further, the company’s higher cash balance allows it to frequently engage in capital deployment strategies, which include share buybacks and dividend payments. However, declining new vehicle sales in U.K. partly due to new emission tests are concerns for the company. Also, shares of the company have underperformed the industry over the past three months.”

Several other brokerages also recently weighed in on GPI. Morgan Stanley boosted their price objective on shares of Group 1 Automotive from $59.00 to $64.00 and gave the stock a sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 15th. Buckingham Research upgraded shares of Group 1 Automotive from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $70.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Monday, October 29th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. TheStreet downgraded shares of Group 1 Automotive from a b- rating to a c+ rating in a research report on Thursday, October 18th. Finally, ValuEngine downgraded shares of Group 1 Automotive from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 2nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. Group 1 Automotive currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $78.60.

Shares of NYSE:GPI opened at $52.48 on Wednesday. The company has a market cap of $1.02 billion, a PE ratio of 6.79, a P/E/G ratio of 3.66 and a beta of 2.05. The company has a quick ratio of 0.24, a current ratio of 1.03 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.14. Group 1 Automotive has a twelve month low of $51.90 and a twelve month high of $83.97.

Group 1 Automotive (NYSE:GPI) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $2.47 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $2.39 by $0.08. The business had revenue of $2.89 billion during the quarter. Group 1 Automotive had a net margin of 2.05% and a return on equity of 15.48%. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Group 1 Automotive will post 8.88 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, December 17th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 3rd will be given a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, November 30th. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.98%. Group 1 Automotive’s dividend payout ratio is presently 13.45%.

Group 1 Automotive announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Thursday, October 25th that authorizes the company to buyback $100.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to buy up to 9.5% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of GPI. Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Group 1 Automotive by 1.0% in the 1st quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 158,974 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,387,000 after acquiring an additional 1,586 shares during the period. TD Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Group 1 Automotive in the 2nd quarter valued at $243,000. First Trust Advisors LP increased its holdings in shares of Group 1 Automotive by 13.4% in the 2nd quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 37,322 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,351,000 after acquiring an additional 4,414 shares during the period. IndexIQ Advisors LLC increased its holdings in shares of Group 1 Automotive by 5.7% in the 2nd quarter. IndexIQ Advisors LLC now owns 33,476 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,109,000 after acquiring an additional 1,799 shares during the period. Finally, KBC Group NV increased its holdings in shares of Group 1 Automotive by 34.1% in the 2nd quarter. KBC Group NV now owns 7,952 shares of the company’s stock valued at $501,000 after acquiring an additional 2,024 shares during the period.

Group 1 Automotive Company Profile

Group 1 Automotive, Inc, through its subsidiaries, operates in the automotive retail industry. It sells new and used cars, light trucks, and vehicle parts; arranges vehicle financing; sells service and insurance contracts; and provides automotive maintenance and repair services. The company has operations primarily in the metropolitan areas of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas in the United States; 28 towns in the United Kingdom; and in the metropolitan markets of Sao Paulo, Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Santa Catarina, Brazil.

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