Lithia Motors Inc.'s strategy of growing through acquisitions continues to broaden the dealership group's geographic footprint.
Lithia, of Medford, Ore., is buying Baierl Auto Group in Pittsburgh, which has six rooftops that sell Acura, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota vehicles. Two other, smaller Baierl stores are being spun off to their managers.
Lithia, which owns 160 dealerships, had none in Pennsylvania previously. Indeed, until less than three years ago, the nation's fourth-largest dealership group was concentrated almost exclusively in smaller, Pacific Northwest markets. Then it began to spread its wings.
In 2014, Lithia bought DCH Auto Group, marking its first move into major markets on the East and West coasts. Last fall, it entered markets in New England with the purchase of the Carbone Auto Group.
More acquisitions are likely. The company reviews potential acquisitions on a "day-to-day" basis, CEO Bryan DeBoer said.
Lithia ended the quarter with $450 million in potential liquidity, giving it "capacity to continue acquisitions at a similar or accelerated cadence in 2017 and beyond," DeBoer said. Lithia generates $200 million to $300 million in cash annually that could be used to make acquisitions that would add $1 billion and $3 billion in annual revenue, DeBoer said.