Friday, December 3, 2010

AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO): Q1 Earnings Preview 2011

AutoZone (NYSE: AZO), the largest U.S. auto-parts retail chain, is scheduled to release its fiscal first quarter before the opening bell on Tuesday, December 7, 2010. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of $3.39 per share on revenue of $1.71 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of $2.82 per share on revenue of $1.59 billion. 

AutoZone, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories. Its stores offer various products primarily to do-it-yourself customers for use in cars, sport utility vehicles, vans, and light trucks, including new and remanufactured automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories, and non-automotive products. As of August 28, 2010, AutoZone sells auto and light truck parts, chemicals and accessories through 4,389 AutoZone stores in 48 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 238 stores in Mexico. 

In December, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported that net income was $202.7 million, or $4.12 per share, compared to $173.7 million, or 3.13 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Quarterly revenue climbed 9.9% to $1.82 billion. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $3.58 per share on revenue of $1.71 billion.

The average age of vehicles on the road has been increasing in recent years. The average age of cars and trucks on the road today is more than 10 years old, , according to McLean-based National Automobile Dealers Association. As the number of miles driven increases, consumers' vehicles are more likely to need service and maintenance, resulting in an increase in the need for automotive hard parts and maintenance items. 
The number of vehicles on the road in the United States has increased significantly in recent years fueling ongoing demand for products and services offered by automotive franchises. There are now more cars than ever in need of maintenance and repair. 

The company is focused on aggressive expansion of its Hub store, acceleration of store maintenance and expansion in the size of its commercial sales force. 

Autozone is also returning much of its free cash to shareholders via share repurchases. In September, the company announced that its Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of an additional $500 million of the Company's common stock in connection with its ongoing share repurchase program. Over the past 10 years, the number of shares outstanding has been reduced by over 50%.

In terms of stock performance, AutoZone shares have gained nearly 65% over the past year.

Full Disclosure: None.
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