Does AutoZone Deserve More From Its Q4 Report?

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When AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) released its most recent quarterly report before the markets opened on Tuesday, the retailer said that it had $18.54 in earnings per share (EPS) and $3.56 billion in revenue. Consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters had called for $17.85 in EPS and revenue of $3.59 billion. Also, the fiscal fourth quarter of last year reportedly had EPS of $15.27 on $3.51 billion in revenue.

During the latest quarter, domestic same-store sales increased 2.2%.

For the quarter, gross profit, as a percentage of sales, was 53.6%, up from 52.8% last year. The increase in gross margin was attributable to the impact of the sale of two business units completed during the year and higher merchandise margins, partially offset by higher supply chain costs.

Also in this time, AutoZone opened 78 new stores and relocated four stores in the United States, and it opened 28 new stores in Mexico and four in Brazil. As of the end of the quarter, the company had a total of 5,618 stores in the United States, 564 stores in Mexico and 20 stores in Brazil.

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

We were pleased to deliver positive same store sales for both our Retail and Commercial businesses. We expected our sales, particularly in the Rust Belt, to increase this summer and, for the most part, that materialized.  Additionally, our Commercial sales performance accelerated nicely in the quarter growing 8.8%.  While these were positive developments, we believe we have further opportunities to improve our operations and results.  As we are investing to grow, we will remain committed to our disciplined approach to increasing operating earnings and utilizing our capital effectively.

Shares of AutoZone were last seen down over 3% at $723.03 on Tuesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $764.06 and a 52-week trading range of $533.00 to $797.89.