No stranger to speed, O. Bruton Smith has raced Sonic Automotive to the front of the pack of US auto dealers behind larger rivals, such as AutoNation and Penske Automotive. Founded with five dealerships in 1997, Sonic today owns about 120 new- and used-vehicle dealerships and about 25 collision repair centers in major markets in 15 states, including Texas, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia. The company sells some 30 brands of cars and light trucks and offers vehicle financing. Chairman Smith, who runs Sonic Automotive with his son Scott, is also the majority owner of Speedway Motorsports, which operates more than half a dozen NASCAR auto racetracks.
Overall, the company's revenues in 2011 accounted for some $7.8 billion versus around $3.6 billion in 2010. Net income came in at $77.6 million in 2011 compared to $95.9 million in 2010, a 15% decrease. In 2011 the impact of earthquakes and the tsunami that struck Japan disrupted the company's Japanese supply chain and vehicle production. Sonic's new vehicle revenues and gross margins were impacted, thus affecting net income. Sonics' new vehicle sales generated around $4.3 million (about 55% of revenues) in revenues in 2011; used vehicle sales accounted for some $2 million (around 25% of revenues), and the company's parts, service and collision segment accounted for around $1.2 million (some 15% of revenues) in revenues.
In 2011 the company sold approximately 12.7 million new vehicles compared to 11.6 million vehicles sold in 2010, a year-over-year increase of some 10%. The company sells new vehicles, including luxury (BMW, Lexus, Land Rover, and Volvo), mid-line import (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota), and domestic brands (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors). Its luxury brands generated some 50% of revenues in 2011; while the company's mid-line and domestic brands accounted for about 35% and 15%, respectively.
As part of the company's strategic plans, Sonic is primarily focused in growing its operations in metropolitan markets in the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, and the West (California). The company's long-term growth strategy is to target luxury or mid-line import brands.
The Smiths control the company through their ownership of about 75% of Sonic Automotive's voting stock. – less