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HOUSTON — Thanks largely to improvements in its business structure as well as a healthier auto environment, Group 1 made what its president and chief executive officer called a "strong start" to the year.

Adjusted net income for the first quarter came in at $10.4 million, up from $4.7 million in the year-ago period.

The most recent results, however, do not include net after-tax losses of $2.5 million related to the early redemption of the company's 8.25-percent senior subordinated notes in 2010.

Meanwhile, the adjusted year-ago results do not include net after-tax gains of $3.7 million, which consist of gains on debt redemptions partially offset by a loss from a dealership disposition.

So, including these items, first-quarter 2010 net income was $8 million, down from roughly $8.4 million in the same period of 2009.

Continuing on, first quarter revenues jumped to $1.19 billion, a 16.8-percent upswing.

"Fueled by an improved industry selling environment late in the first quarter, we were successful in delivering a strong start to 2010 with adjusted earnings per share more than doubling from the same period a year ago," explained Earl Hesterberg, Group 1's president and CEO.

"These solid results reflect the benefits of an improved business structure coupled with a strengthening auto retail market," he added.

Used-vehicle retail revenue was up 24.3 percent to $279.61 million, while new-vehicle retail revenue saw an 18.1-percent rise to $646.12 million.

Used wholesale revenue climbed 22.4 percent to $42.51 million, while there was a 2.5-percent increase in parts and service revenue, which came in at $185.44 million.

F&I revenue reached $37.48 million, a 16.9-percent upswing.

As far as the company's balance sheet, officials said Group 1 has overall immediately available funds of $113.6 million, and $291 million in overall available liquidity.

Group 1 Buys Audi Store

In other news from the company, Group 1 revealed Monday its recent purchase of an Audi store in Columbia, S.C., that executives said will complement the BMW of Columbia store the company already owns.

The Audi dealership will likely bring in $14.5 million of revenue each year, officials project.