ROANOKE, VA — Advance Auto Parts has reported record revenue and earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year, which ended January 3. Fiscal 2003 included 53 weeks of operations compared to 52 weeks in 2002, with the additional week falling in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Sales increased 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter to $821.3 million from $689.2 million. Excluding $63 million in sales from the extra week, sales increased 10 percent. Same store sales grew 7 percent in the fourth quarter versus 3.1 percent in the same quarter last year. Stores acquired as part of the Discount Auto Parts’ acquisition, which are included in the comparable store base, produced a comparable store sales increase of 7.5 percent during the fourth quarter compared to 3.3 percent last year, the company said.
The company has reported that during the fourth quarter, gross margin increased 49 basis points to 45.6 percent versus 45.1 percent in the same quarter of last year, reflecting the positive impact of category management initiatives and improved efficiencies in the logistics network. On a GAAP basis, fourth quarter operating margins improved 243 basis points to 7.2 percent compared to 4.8 percent last year. Comparable operating margins rose 131 basis points to 7.4 percent compared to 6.1 percent in the same quarter last year. Comparable results exclude the expenses associated with the Discount Auto Parts’ integration.
On a GAAP basis, net earnings increased by 262.8 percent to $31.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2003. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.41, compared to $0.12 last year. The 2003 fourth quarter GAAP earnings included expenses of $0.01 per diluted share associated with the Discount Auto Parts’ integration and a $0.03 loss per diluted share from discontinued operations related to the Western Auto wholesale business.
“In the fourth quarter, our team generated the strongest same store sales growth of the year, as we built momentum from our operating initiatives; including refining our category management process, launching a nationwide brand- building advertising program, and enhancing our in-store systems,” said Larry Castellani, chairman and CEO. “The same store sales increase came from a rise in both customer count and higher average transactions. We also produced strong gains in both our gross and operating margins.”