Asbury Automotive Group has posted higher third-quarter earnings on strong performances from its repair business and its finance and insurance unit, Reuters reported.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Asbury reportedly said its earnings rose to $US16.2 million from earnings of $14.6 million in the year-ago third quarter.

Results included a loss from discontinued operations of $922,000, or 3 cents per share, in the 2003 third quarter and revenue rose to $1.29 billion from $1.20 billion previously, Reuters said.

New vehicle sales rose 9.4%, or 4.1% for dealerships open at least a year, reflecting significantly higher selling prices, while sales growth was stronger in the collision and repair business and in finance and insurance, Reuters said.

According to the report, Asbury said that it expects earnings from continuing operations for 2003 of around $1.55 per share, based on expectations of a difficult sales environment, with new and used vehicle sales on a same-store basis down in the mid- to upper-single digit range.

That compares with analysts' estimates on average of $1.56 per share, according to Reuters Research.

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