AutoZone’s Earnings Rise, But Same-Store Sales Momentum Wanes

Auto parts retailer AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE:AZO) early Tuesday posted mixed fiscal Q1 earnings, as sales at established locations rose at a much lower rate than last year.

The Memphis-based company reported fiscal first quarter EPS of $9.36, which was up 13% from last year and 4 cents better than the $9.32 expected by analysts. Revenues rose 3.9% from last year to $2.47 billion, falling short of Wall Street’s $2.49 billion estimate.

Gross profit for the latest period was was 52.7%, up slightly from 52.5% last year, helped by lower acquisition costs. Meanwhile, operating expenses, as a percentage of sales, edged slightly lower to 34.1%.

Same-store sales, a key indicator of a retailer’s health, rose 1.6% in the latest period. The momentum appears to be decelerating, however, as same-store sales were up 3.5% in the prior-year period.

CEO Bill Rhodes commented via press release:

“I would like to thank our entire organization for delivering another quarter of very solid results. We are pleased to report our forty-first consecutive quarter of double digit earnings per share growth. We remain committed to providing superior customer service and trustworthy advice. For the quarter, we reached record first quarter sales and earnings per share while opening 21 new locations and 35 Commercial programs. We also continued with the rollout of our inventory availability initiatives, including expanding our multi-deliveries per week to 161 net additional stores. We will continue with our deliberately-paced multiple delivery rollouts in 2017, and we will continue to open more Mega Hub locations. We have opened our second distribution center in Mexico, and we are in the process of building two new domestic distribution centers. We believe these initiatives will allow us to continue to meet our customers’ needs across all selling channels. As we continue to invest capital in all our businesses, we remain committed to our disciplined approach of increasing operating earnings and utilizing our capital effectively.”

AutoZone shares rose $8.53 (+1.10%) to $784.95 in premarket trading Tuesday. Prior to today’s report, AZO had gained 4.65% year-to-date, trailing the 8.4% return of the benchmark S&P 500 during the same period.