Did Advance Auto Parts Earnings Misfire?

Advance Auto Parts Inc. (NYSE: AAP) released its fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Tuesday. The auto parts chain posted $1.17 in earnings per share (EPS) and $2.11 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates that called for $1.13 in EPS and $2.11 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $0.77 in EPS and $2.04 billion in revenue.

During the quarter, net sales increased 3.3%, while comparable store sales increased 3.4%.

Adjusted gross profit margin was 44.2% of net sales in the fourth quarter, a 127-basis-point increase from the fourth quarter of last year. Productivity initiatives, including material cost optimization, better inventory management and a reduction in shrink, were the primary drivers and were partially offset by commodity and tariff headwinds.

Looking ahead to the 2019 full year, the company expects to see net sales in the range of $9.65 billion to $9.80 billion with comparable sales 1.0% to 2.5%. Consensus estimates call for $8.16 in EPS and $9.78 billion in revenue for the year.

Tom Greco, president and CEO, commented:

I am proud to report another quarter of comp sales and adjusted operating income growth as we concluded the second year of our transformation agenda with consistent, balanced improvement in nearly every metric. The dedication of our entire team is evident as they focused on delighting the Customer and growing the top-line while remaining disciplined in controlling costs to deliver margin expansion. We are pleased with the continuous progress throughout 2018 versus our long-term strategic objectives and remain committed to further strengthening our Customer Value Proposition to capitalize on the substantial opportunity still ahead for Advance.

Shares of Advance Auto Parts closed Friday at $169.99, in a 52-week range of $102.15 to $186.15. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $195.29. Following the announcement, the stock was down nearly 3% at $165.50 in early trading indications Tuesday.