DULUTH, Ga. (AP) ¿ Automotive retailer Asbury Automotive Group Inc. said Thursday its third-quarter profit rose 35 percent, as cost controls and inventory improvements offset a drop in sales. Asbury earned $7.4 million, or 22 cents per share, up from $5.5 million, or 17 cents per share, a year ago. Income from continuing operations rose to $9.5 million, or 29 cents per share, from $6.9 million, or 21 cents per share. The recent quarter's results included one-time restructuring and other charges of 2 cents per share compared with 3 cents per share in last year's third quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 32 cents per share. Sales fell 12 percent to $983 million from $1.12 billion a year ago, as new vehicle sales dropped 17 percent to $560.5 million. Used vehicle sales fell 2.2 percent to $243.4 million. Asbury said the drop in sales was more than offset by its quick efforts to align its cost structure and new vehicle inventory to the current sales pace. Asbury shares fell 23 cents, or 2 percent, to $11.23 in afternoon trading.
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