Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Sonic Automotive Inc. (NYSE:SAH) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday morning.

According to Zacks, “Sonic Automotive’s earnings estimates have been going down lately. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. The company’s extensive merchandise inventory raises concerns. Moreover, a highly competitive industry and fluctuations in foreign exchange rate remain headwinds. “

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) traded up 0.43% during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $18.89. 80,305 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $17.98 and a 200 day moving average of $17.63. The company has a market cap of $858.49 million, a P/E ratio of 9.61 and a beta of 1.81. Sonic Automotive has a 12-month low of $15.68 and a 12-month high of $25.77.

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

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.05 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $0.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.06%. Sonic Automotive’s payout ratio is 10.26%.

In related news, insider O Bruton Smith acquired 50,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 24th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $16.83 per share, with a total value of $841,500.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the insider now directly owns 525,242 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $8,839,822.86. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Insiders own 29.32% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Chicago Equity Partners LLC raised its stake in shares of Sonic Automotive by 29.9% in the second quarter. Chicago Equity Partners LLC now owns 129,465 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,215,000 after buying an additional 29,820 shares during the period. Bank of Montreal Can acquired a new stake in shares of Sonic Automotive during the second quarter valued at about $431,000. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its stake 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 valued at $179,000 after buying an additional 4,726 shares during the period. A.R.T. Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Sonic Automotive during the first quarter valued at about $867,000. Finally, HBK Investments L P acquired a new stake in shares of Sonic Automotive during the first quarter valued at about $985,000. Institutional investors own 65.88% of the company’s stock.

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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