Sonic Automotive Inc (NYSE:SAH) shares shot up 5.1% during mid-day trading on Thursday . The company traded as high as $35.00 and last traded at $34.44, 504,671 shares changed hands during mid-day trading. An increase of 85% from the average session volume of 273,200 shares. The stock had previously closed at $32.78.

A number of research firms have commented on SAH. Stephens set a $40.00 target price on shares of Sonic Automotive and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, October 25th. Morgan Stanley raised shares of Sonic Automotive from an “underweight” rating to an “equal” rating in a research report on Thursday. ValuEngine cut shares of Sonic Automotive from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 31st. Bank of America cut shares of Sonic Automotive from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research report on Friday, September 13th. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised shares of Sonic Automotive from an “underweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and upped their target price for the company from $23.00 to $30.00 in a research report on Tuesday, September 10th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $26.50.

The stock’s 50-day simple moving average is $30.91 and its 200 day simple moving average is $25.75. The company has a quick ratio of 0.25, a current ratio of 1.04 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.31. The company has a market cap of $1.43 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.46, a PEG ratio of 4.47 and a beta of 1.90.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, October 24th. The company reported $0.66 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.57 by $0.09. Sonic Automotive had a net margin of 1.16% and a return on equity of 12.20%. The company had revenue of $2.70 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.60 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.43 earnings per share. Sonic Automotive’s revenue for the quarter was up 9.4% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, sell-side analysts expect that Sonic Automotive Inc will post 2.46 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, January 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 13th will be given a $0.10 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 12th. This represents a $0.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.16%. Sonic Automotive’s payout ratio is currently 22.60%.

In other news, President Jeff Dyke sold 25,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $35.00, for a total transaction of $875,000.00. Following the sale, the president now owns 1,265,003 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $44,275,105. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Insiders sold 56,924 shares of company stock worth $1,734,607 in the last ninety days. 31.60% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. lifted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 6.2% during the second quarter. Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. now owns 29,690 shares of the company’s stock worth $693,000 after purchasing an additional 1,737 shares in the last quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC acquired a new stake in Sonic Automotive in the second quarter valued at approximately $422,000. Northern Trust Corp raised its holdings in Sonic Automotive by 0.9% in the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,226,566 shares of the company’s stock valued at $28,639,000 after acquiring an additional 11,440 shares in the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers raised its holdings in Sonic Automotive by 5.6% in the third quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 93,596 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,940,000 after acquiring an additional 5,003 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Alpha Windward LLC acquired a new stake in Sonic Automotive in the third quarter valued at approximately $490,000. 60.31% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH)

Sonic Automotive, Inc operates as an automotive retailer in the United States. It operates in two segments, Franchised Dealerships and EchoPark. The Franchised Dealerships segment is involved in the sale of new and used cars and light trucks, and replacement parts; provision of vehicle maintenance, manufacturer warranty repair, and paint and collision repair services; and arrangement of extended warranties, service contracts, financing, insurance, and other aftermarket products.

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