Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Sonic Automotive actively pursues capital deployment strategies to boost shareholder value. The company plans to offset dilution caused by equity compensation awards through regular share repurchase programs. It is expected that over the long term, the company has the ability to enhance service capacity and raise revenues. However, weakness in the Houston market, where Sonic Automotive has considerable exposure, is also likely to adversely impact its sales and profit. In the last six months, the company's shares have underperformed in the industry it belongs to.”

A number of other brokerages have also commented on SAH. Bank of America lowered Sonic Automotive from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Thursday, October 19th. ValuEngine raised Sonic Automotive from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, December 1st. Finally, TheStreet raised Sonic Automotive from a “c+” rating to a “b” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 18th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Sonic Automotive has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $22.67.

Shares of Sonic Automotive (NYSE SAH) traded up $1.20 on Tuesday, hitting $20.95. The stock had a trading volume of 554,700 shares, compared to its average volume of 505,480. The firm has a market capitalization of $904.95, a price-to-earnings ratio of 13.43, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.35 and a beta of 1.57. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.41, a current ratio of 1.06 and a quick ratio of 0.26. Sonic Automotive has a 52 week low of $15.95 and a 52 week high of $27.45.

Sonic Automotive (NYSE:SAH) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 24th. The company reported $0.40 EPS for the quarter, meeting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.40. The company had revenue of $2.51 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.54 billion. Sonic Automotive had a return on equity of 10.47% and a net margin of 0.70%. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.47 earnings per share. research analysts expect that Sonic Automotive will post 1.82 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, CFO Heath Byrd sold 11,000 shares of Sonic Automotive stock in a transaction dated Friday, October 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $20.43, for a total transaction of $224,730.00. Following the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 143,306 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,927,741.58. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Jeff Dyke sold 8,551 shares of Sonic Automotive stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $20.10, for a total value of $171,875.10. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 1,262,056 shares in the company, valued at $25,367,325.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 30.29% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 7.0% in the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 9,515 shares of the company’s stock valued at $185,000 after purchasing an additional 624 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 200,570 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,901,000 after purchasing an additional 786 shares during the period. Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 17.6% in the 2nd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,854 shares of the company’s stock valued at $114,000 after purchasing an additional 878 shares during the period. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 5.9% in the 2nd quarter. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans now owns 15,850 shares of the company’s stock valued at $308,000 after purchasing an additional 890 shares during the period. Finally, Legal & General Group Plc boosted its position in shares of Sonic Automotive by 1.0% in the 2nd quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 111,817 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,173,000 after purchasing an additional 1,060 shares during the period. 64.40% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Sonic Automotive

Sonic Automotive, Inc is an automotive retailer in the United States. The Company’s operating segments include Franchised Dealerships and EchoPark. Its Franchised Dealerships segment consists of retail automotive franchises that sell new vehicles and buy and sell used vehicles, sell replacement parts, perform vehicle repair and maintenance services, and arrange finance and insurance products.

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