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

According to Zacks, “Sonic Automotive’s third-quarter earnings declined year over year and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. However, revenues increased and outpaced estimates. The company's earnings per share are expected to increase in 2016. The company is poised to benefit from capital deployment strategies and different initiatives undertaken to boost its performance. However, Sonic Automotive is witnessing weakness in its most profitable market, Houston. Moreover, it expects to incur loss related to EchoPark this year. The company’s extensive merchandise inventory also raises concerns. Further, a highly competitive industry and fluctuations in foreign exchange rate remain headwinds.”

SAH has been the subject of several other research reports. Jefferies Group reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Sonic Automotive in a report on Wednesday, October 19th. TheStreet raised shares of Sonic Automotive from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, November 11th.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) traded up 1.21% during trading on Monday, reaching $20.85. 49,124 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Sonic Automotive has a one year low of $15.68 and a one year high of $24.87. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $18.72 and a 200 day moving average price of $17.79. The firm has a market capitalization of $935.54 million, a PE ratio of 11.41 and a beta of 1.49.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, November 1st. The company reported $0.47 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.54 by $0.07. Sonic Automotive had a net margin of 0.90% and a return on equity of 13.54%. The firm earned $2.56 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.48 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.53 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts anticipate that Sonic Automotive will post $1.98 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, January 13th. Investors of record on Thursday, December 15th will be issued a $0.05 dividend. This represents a $0.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.97%. Sonic Automotive’s payout ratio is presently 10.93%.

In other Sonic Automotive news, insider O Bruton Smith bought 50,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 24th. The stock was acquired at an average price 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 transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. 29.32% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio raised its stake 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 worth $125,000 after buying an additional 1,041 shares during the last quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC acquired a new stake in Sonic Automotive during the third quarter worth about $135,000. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its stake in 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. acquired a new stake in Sonic Automotive during the second quarter worth about $187,000. Finally, OLD National Bancorp IN raised its stake in 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. 66.13% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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