MEMPHIS, Tenn. – AutoZone has reported net sales of $2.3 billion for its first quarter (12 weeks) ended Nov. 22, an increase of 8 percent from the first quarter of fiscal 2014 (12 weeks).
Domestic same store sales, or sales for stores open at least one year, increased 4.5 percent for the quarter.
Net income for the quarter increased 9.3 percent over the same period last year to $238.3 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 15.6 percent to $7.27 per share from $6.29 per share in the year-ago quarter.
For the quarter, gross profit, as a percentage of sales, was 52.1 percent (versus 51.9 percent for last year’s quarter). The company said improvement in gross margin was attributable to higher merchandise margins and lower shrink expense, partially offset by the impact on margin from the Interamerican Motor Corp. (IMC) acquisition completed this quarter (-24 bps).
Under its share repurchase program, AutoZone repurchased 571,000 shares of its common stock for $300 million during the first quarter, at an average price of $525 per share. At the end of the first quarter, the company had $570 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization.
“I would like to thank our entire organization for delivering very solid financial results in our first fiscal quarter,” said Bill Rhodes, chairman, president and CEO. “We are pleased to report our 33rd consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings per share growth. Our sales growth improved significantly this quarter, which we believe was a result of our continued efforts to improve the business, most notably inventory availability, combined with lower gas prices and favorable weather in the last two weeks of our quarter. We continue to diligently work on our inventory availability initiatives and have been quite pleased with our results to date. The expanded assortments we have deployed over the last year are working and are contributing to our success. Our other inventory initiatives remain in test phase but are being expanded based on favorable results to date.
“While we continue to strategically invest in our business in order to support our growth, we remain committed to our disciplined approach to growing operating earnings and utilizing our capital effectively,” Rhodes added.
During the quarter, AutoZone opened 22 new stores in the U.S., four new stores in Mexico, and completed the acquisition of IMC’s 17 branches. As of Nov. 22, the company had 5,006 AutoZone stores in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in the U.S., 406 stores in Mexico, five stores in Brazil and 17 IMC branches for a total count of 5,434.