Online automotive marketer Autobytel Inc. of Irvine posted a 24% increase in third-quarter profit to $551,000 on Thursday amid improving conditions in the car industry.

Autobytel sells consumer leads to auto manufacturers and dealers, and also sells ad space on its websites, which offer automobile data to consumers.

Quarterly revenue climbed 7% to $17.5 million. Analysts on average had forecast revenue of $16.8 million.

“We generated the highest level of dealer revenue in 11 quarters,” Chief Executive Jeffrey Coats said. “Favorable trends in the automotive market, combined with greater recognition of our brand, position us well.”

Autobytel released its results after the close of market trading. Shares were up 4% in afterhours trading to a market value of about $36 million.

The company also updated its year-end guidance, projecting that net income would triple to about $1.2 million.

Autobytel expects to report an uptick in annual revenue of 3% to 5%, officials said. The company had $63.8 million in revenue in 2011.