* EPS from continued ops 7 cents, vs 40 cents yr ago

* New vehicle sales down 33 percent from yr ago

Auto dealership chain Sonic Automotive Inc (SAH.N) posted a plunge in second-quarter profit on Tuesday as the economic recession hurt consumer demand for new vehicles.

Sonic Automotive, the third-largest U.S. auto retailer operating 154 stores, said total new vehicle sales fell 33 percent in the quarter that ended June 30, while used vehicle sales rose 4 percent.

The company posted net income of $26,000 during the quarter, compared with net income of $9.2 million, or 22 cents per share, a year ago.

It earned 7 cents per share, or $3.1 million, from continuing operations, compared with a profit of 40 cents per share, or $16.4 million, a year earlier.

Revenue dropped nearly 22 percent to $1.39 billion.

Automakers and dealers have seen U.S. light-vehicle sales fall to near 27-year lows amid a weak economy and declining consumer confidence. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim, editing by Maureen Bavdek)