AutoZone Coasts Through Q4 Earnings

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AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) reported its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. The company said that it had $14.30 in earnings per share (EPS) on $3.4 billion in revenue. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters called for $14.25 in EPS on revenue of $3.43 billion. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $12.75 and $3.29 billion in revenue.

Domestic same-store sales, or sales for stores open at least one year, increased 1.0% for the quarter.

During the quarter, AutoZone opened 71 new stores and relocated two stores in the United States, opened 25 new stores in Mexico and opened one new IMC branch. The company has 5,297 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 483 stores in Mexico, 26 IMC branches and eight stores in Brazil, for a total count of 5,814.

Under its share repurchase program, AutoZone bought $370 million worth of its common stock during the quarter. Currently, the company has $395 million remaining under its share repurchase authorization.

On the books, AutoZone’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $189.7 million at the end of the quarter, versus $175.3 million at the end of the previous fiscal year.

Bill Rhodes, board chair, president and chief executive, commented on earnings:

We are pleased to report our fortieth consecutive quarter of double digit earnings per share growth… For the year, we reached many milestones which included generating $10.6 billion in sales, opening 156 new domestic AutoZone stores, 43 AutoZone stores internationally, and six IMC branches.  Additionally, the ongoing rollout of our inventory availability initiatives, including expanding our multi-deliveries per week to stores and opening mega hub locations, has gone very well.  We expect to continue with these initiatives in 2017 while expanding our supply chain network with the already announced planned openings of two or three new domestic distribution centers over the next few years.  In order to continue to meet our customers’ needs across all selling channels, we continue to invest capital in our product availability initiatives across our businesses.  While investing to grow, we will remain committed to our disciplined approach to increasing operating earnings and utilizing our capital effectively.

Shares of AutoZone closed Wednesday at $751.45, with a consensus analyst price target of $857.19 and a 52-week trading range of $681.01 to $819.54. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock traded up slightly at $754.00 in early trading indications Thursday.

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