AutoZone Earnings Preview

The three major U.S. equity indexes closed lower Thursday. The Dow Jones industrials ended the day down 0.56%, the S&P 500 fell by 1.13% and the Nasdaq dropped 1.43%. Nine of 11 sectors ended the day with losses ranging from 2.6% (energy) to 0.4% (communications services). Health care (up 0.6%) and financials (up 0.5%) were the only sectors to post gains. All three major indexes traded lower Friday morning.

Some economists are fretting that the yield curve (the spread between two-year and 10-year Treasury notes) has inverted (short-term premiums are higher than long-term). The dollar continues to gain strength, and the British pound dropped to its lowest level since 1985.

Before markets opened on Thursday, Adobe reported quarterly results along with news that apparently could not wait until U.S. markets closed for the day, as had been the original plan. The company beat earnings estimates and missed slightly on revenues. The big news was the announcement of a $20 billion acquisition that drove the shares down by nearly 17%. The stock traded down about 2% in Friday’s premarket.

Next week is another slow one for earnings reports, although action picks up in mid-week. Here is a look at one firm reporting quarterly results first thing Monday morning.

Auto parts retailer AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) has added more than 34% to its share price over the past 12 months. The stock posted a 52-week high in mid-August, and its 52-week low will roll off next week. The shares have added about 1,850% since the financial crisis of 2008. That is a bit less than half the price appreciation in Apple stock over the same period and nearly double the price increase in Microsoft stock. Auto parts retailers typically do well during periods of slow or no growth, as more people do their own auto maintenance and repair.

Of 24 analysts covering the stock, 16 have a Buy or Strong Buy rating and six more have Hold ratings. At a recent share price of around $2,145, the upside potential based on a median price target of $2.278 is 6.2%. At the high target of $2,550, the upside potential is 18.9%.

Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue is forecast at $5.15 billion, which would be up 33.3% sequentially and by 4.9% year over year. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) are forecast at $38.61, up 33.0% sequentially and 8.1% higher year over year. For the full 2022 fiscal year ended in August, analysts are forecasting EPS of $115.26, up 21.1%, on sales of $16.05 billion, up 9.7%.

AutoZone stock trades at 18.6 times expected 2022 EPS, 16.9 times estimated 2023 earnings of $126.93 and 15.3 times estimated 2024 earnings of $140.31 per share. The stock’s 52-week range is $1,559.43 to $2,362.24. The company does not pay a dividend. Total shareholder return for the past year was 34.3%.

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