AutoZone Follows Earnings to Slight Stock Gains

AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE: AZO) rose Tuesday on upbeat quarterly earnings.

A news release out Tuesday said the Memphis-based AutoZone reported net sales of $2.6 billion for its first quarter, an increase of 4.9% from the first quarter of fiscal 2017. Domestic same store sales, or sales for stores open at least one year, increased 2.3% for the quarter.

Net income for the quarter increased 1.0% over the same period last year to $281.0 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 6.8% to $10.00 per share from $9.36 per share in the year-ago quarter.

For the quarter, gross profit, as a percentage of sales, was 52.8% (versus 52.7% for the same period last year). Gross margin was effectively flat for the quarter, with higher merchandise margins being offset by higher inventory shrink results (-11 basis points).

Operating expenses, as a percentage of sales, were 34.6% (versus 34.1% the same period last year). Operating expenses, as a percentage of sales, were higher than last year primarily due to hurricane-related expenses incurred during the quarter (-35 bps) and de-leverage on occupancy costs (-19 bps).

Under its share repurchase program, AutoZone repurchased 597,000 shares of its common stock for $353 million during the first quarter, at an average price of $590 per share.

At the end of the first quarter, the Company had $471 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization.
AZO shares gained $3.49 toward the end of trading on Tuesday to $713.26, within a 52-week trading range of $491.13 to $813.70.