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Group 1 Automotive, Inc. Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

In addition, certain non-GAAP financial measures as defined under the SEC rules may be discussed on this call. As required by applicable SEC rules, the company provides reconciliations of any such non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures on its website.

Participating on today’s call is Mr. Earl Hesterberg, our President and CEO; John Rickel, our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Lance Parker, our Vice President and Corporate Controller; and myself.

I would now hand the call over to Earl.

Earl Hesterberg

Thank you Pete and good morning everyone. In a moment, I’ll turn the call over to John Rickel, so he can provide details of our first quarter financial results. So let me first touch on some of the operational highlights during the quarter. We improved our new vehicle sales by 18% despite a very poor start to the quarter resulting from the Toyota recall challenges numerous selling days lost to extreme winter weather and January and February.

Industry selling activity for both new and used vehicles dramatically improved in March. While manufacture incentive activity in March certainly contributed to the improving sales environment, it’s our sense that consumers are starting to gain confidence and we are seeing the beginning of a recovery in new vehicle sales. We saw improvements in most markets and brands in March. According to J.D. Power the March start came in 11.7 million units reflecting a 38% increase in retail sales in February in 2010.

This was the best showing since the Cash for Clunkers didn’t result in August last year and we are continuing to see signs of market strength in April. In association with this improved new car sales environment we saw a significant double-digit improvement in our new vehicle revenues, gross profit and gross profit for unit results compared with the same period a year ago. New vehicle gross margin increased 70 basis points to 6.1% on a year-over-year basis.

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