Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Sonic Automotive Inc. (NYSE:SAH) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Thursday morning.

According to Zacks, “Sonic Automotive is poised to benefit from capital deployment strategies and different initiatives undertaken to boost its performance. The company’s earnings per share are expected to increase in 2016. However, Sonic Automotive’s extensive merchandise inventory raises concerns. Moreover, a highly competitive industry and fluctuations in foreign exchange rate remain headwinds. Sonic Automotive’s earnings estimates have been stable lately. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Shares of Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) opened at 17.25 on Thursday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $17.20 and a 200 day moving average price of $17.66. The firm has a market cap of $783.96 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.77 and a beta of 1.94. Sonic Automotive has a one year low of $15.68 and a one year high of $25.77.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $0.50 EPS for the quarter, meeting the consensus estimate of $0.50. The firm earned $2.38 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.48 billion. Sonic Automotive had a return on equity of 14.65% and a net margin of 0.99%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.46 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Sonic Automotive will post $2.10 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be issued a $0.05 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $0.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.16%. Sonic Automotive’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 10.26%.

In other news, insider O Bruton Smith purchased 50,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 24th. The stock was purchased at an average price of $16.83 per share, with a total value of $841,500.00. Following the acquisition, the insider now directly owns 525,242 shares in the company, valued at approximately $8,839,822.86. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 29.32% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio boosted its position in Sonic Automotive by 16.6% in the second quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 7,301 shares of the company’s stock valued at $125,000 after buying an additional 1,041 shares during the period. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 82.7% in the second quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 10,444 shares of the company’s stock worth $179,000 after buying an additional 4,726 shares during the last quarter. Clinton Group Inc. bought a new position in shares of Sonic Automotive during the second quarter worth about $187,000. OLD National Bancorp IN boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 14.5% in the second quarter. OLD National Bancorp IN now owns 11,903 shares of the company’s stock worth $204,000 after buying an additional 1,511 shares during the last quarter. Finally, FDx Advisors Inc. boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 11.3% in the second quarter. FDx Advisors Inc. now owns 11,903 shares of the company’s stock worth $204,000 after buying an additional 1,211 shares during the last quarter. 65.88% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Sonic Automotive Company Profile

Sonic Automotive, Inc is an automotive retailer in the United States. The Company’s operating segments include Franchised Dealerships and EchoPark. The Company’s Franchised Dealerships segment consists of traditional retail automotive franchises that sell new and used vehicles, replacement parts and vehicle repair and maintenance services, and finance and insurance products.

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