Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) from a hold rating to a strong sell rating in a report released on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “The Zacks Consensus Estimates for Sonic Automotive’s quarterly and yearly earnings have been going down in the past two months. In the past three months, shares of Sonic Automotive underperformed the industry it belongs to. In the company’s BMW and Honda dealerships, new vehicle gross profit per unit was considerably lower during the second quarter. This low margin can be attributed to the lower manufacturer-to-dealer incentives on certain models. This low margin pressure is likely to continue in the third quarter too. Also, the company is witnessing a continuous rise in its Selling, General and Administrative expenses.”

Several other equities analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. Morgan Stanley decreased their price objective on Sonic Automotive from $19.00 to $16.00 and set a sell rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, August 15th. Stephens reaffirmed a hold rating and issued a $19.00 price target on shares of Sonic Automotive in a report on Friday, July 27th. ValuEngine raised Sonic Automotive from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Monday, July 30th. Finally, Buckingham Research reduced their price target on Sonic Automotive from $21.00 to $19.00 and set a $19.55 rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, July 18th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and three have issued a hold rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $20.00.

Shares of SAH stock traded down $0.55 on Wednesday, hitting $19.30. The company had a trading volume of 810 shares, compared to its average volume of 141,068. The stock has a market cap of $852.08 million, a PE ratio of 10.53, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.49 and a beta of 1.63. The company has a quick ratio of 0.21, a current ratio of 1.03 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.19. Sonic Automotive has a twelve month low of $17.20 and a twelve month high of $23.60.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $0.35 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.34 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $2.51 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.47 billion. Sonic Automotive had a return on equity of 10.42% and a net margin of 0.95%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.40 EPS. sell-side analysts anticipate that Sonic Automotive will post 1.93 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 14th will be paid a dividend of $0.06 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 13th. This represents a $0.24 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.24%. Sonic Automotive’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 12.97%.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Russell Investments Group Ltd. increased its stake in Sonic Automotive by 12.7% during the 2nd quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 43,573 shares of the company’s stock worth $903,000 after buying an additional 4,900 shares in the last quarter. Globeflex Capital L P increased its stake in Sonic Automotive by 14.6% during the 2nd quarter. Globeflex Capital L P now owns 40,146 shares of the company’s stock worth $827,000 after buying an additional 5,103 shares in the last quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in Sonic Automotive during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $116,000. Bank of America Corp DE increased its stake in Sonic Automotive by 6.5% during the 2nd quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 117,291 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,417,000 after buying an additional 7,175 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp increased its stake in Sonic Automotive by 0.6% during the 1st quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,283,649 shares of the company’s stock worth $24,325,000 after buying an additional 7,752 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 63.73% of the company’s stock.

About Sonic Automotive

Sonic Automotive, Inc operates as an automotive retailer in the United States. It operates in two segments, Franchised Dealerships and Pre-Owned Stores. 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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