LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - Multi-national car dealer Inchcape posted an 11 percent rise in full-year pre-tax profit on Tuesday, boosted by a strong performance in emerging markets including Chile and Peru, and said it expected further growth this year .
The London-based firm, which sells and distributes cars for manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW in 26 countries including Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Russia, reported pre-tax profit of 274.6 million pounds ($457 million)in the year to 31 Dec. 2013.
The figure beat consensus expectations of 270.9 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters poll of nine analysts.
Sales rose 7.7 percent to 6.5 billion pounds, with particularly strong growth in Chile and Peru where the firm distributes BMW vehicles and saw premium markets grow by 28 percent and 22 percent respectively due to a growing middle class.
The group said it expected an improvement in the European car market which has seen some manufacturers heavily discount, offering attractive finance packages or even free holidays to lure in customers. This would help boost margins for new and used vehicles in Britain.
CEO André Lacroix said this was the company’s fourth consecutive year of earnings per share growth with a return on capital over 20 percent, with a strong performance expected in 2014.
“We expect to deliver a robust constant currency performance in 2014 as we will benefit from broad-based growth across our markets and categories,” he said.
Inchcape said its March 2013 acquisition of the luxury and premium Australian automotive group Trivett, bought for 76 million pounds, delivered a strong profit and increased its representation in Sydney and Melbourne.
In its home market of Britain, the distributor said the new car market reached a five year high, reflecting a bounce-back since the 2008 financial crisis that required government intervention through a scrappage scheme to support the industry.
The firm said it would pay a total dividend of 17.4 pence per share, up 20 percent from a year earlier.