US auto retailer Asbury Automotive Group has estimated third quarter 2006 earnings per share from continuing operations in the range of $0.53 to $0.54.

Excluding expenses associated with recent capital markets activity, Asbury's third quarter earnings from continuing operations is estimated to be in the range of $0.56 to $0.57 per share.

President and CEO Kenneth Gilman said: "Despite a relatively weak retail market nationally for new vehicles, which was down more than 6% from last year's third quarter, Asbury's superior brand mix and balanced business model have once again delivered solid financial results. I am particularly pleased with the continued strength of our higher margin businesses - used vehicles and parts and service, as well as our ability to further leverage our expense structure."

On earnings for 2006, the company increased its guidance by $0.03 to a range of $1.85 to $1.90 for earnings per share from continuing operations.

Asbury will release Q3 results on 26 October.