Sonic Automotive Inc. (NYSE:SAH) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Friday.

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.”

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) traded up 1.39% during trading on Friday, reaching $18.19. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 83,596 shares. Sonic Automotive has a 12-month low of $15.68 and a 12-month high of $25.77. The company has a market capitalization of $826.68 million, a P/E ratio of 9.25 and a beta of 1.94. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $17.23 and its 200 day moving average price is $17.65.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $0.50 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.50. Sonic Automotive had a return on equity of 14.65% and a net margin of 0.99%. The business had revenue of $2.38 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.48 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.46 EPS. The company’s revenue was down 1.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts predict that Sonic Automotive will post $2.10 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.05 per share. This represents a $0.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.11%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. Sonic Automotive’s dividend payout ratio is currently 10.26%.

In related news, insider O Bruton Smith bought 50,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 24th. The shares were purchased at an average price of $16.83 per share, with a total value of $841,500.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 525,242 shares in the company, valued at approximately $8,839,822.86. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Insiders own 29.32% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in SAH. Arizona State Retirement System increased its position in Sonic Automotive by 0.7% in the second quarter. Arizona State Retirement System now owns 14,905 shares of the company’s stock valued at $255,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans increased its position in Sonic Automotive by 5.2% in the second quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans now owns 13,940 shares of the company’s stock valued at $239,000 after buying an additional 690 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC increased its position in Sonic Automotive by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC now owns 130,412 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,231,000 after buying an additional 868 shares in the last quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio increased 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 in the last quarter. Finally, FDx Advisors Inc. increased its position in Sonic Automotive by 11.3% in the second quarter. FDx Advisors Inc. now owns 11,903 shares of the company’s stock valued at $204,000 after buying an additional 1,211 shares in the last quarter. 65.88% of the stock is currently 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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:SAH

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