AutoZone profit drops in Q4

Memphis, Tenn. AutoZone reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell 3.1%, citing tough comparisons to a prior-year period that included an extra week of sales.

Bill Rhodes, AutoZone's chairman, president and CEO, said consumers remained focused on trying to save money during the quarter by spending more on basic maintenance in order to keep their cars on the road longer. Rhodes added that he expects the same trend to continue for the near future.

For the quarter ended Aug. 29, the company earned $236.1 million, down from $243.7 million a year ago. Sales rose 1% to $2.23 billion, from $2.21 billion.

Excluding sales from the additional week included in the prior year's quarter, AutoZone said sales rose 7.1% and domestic same-store sales increased 5.4%.

The CEO added that the government's Cash for Clunkers program -- which offered cash incentives to consumers who swapped older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for new ones -- didn't have a material impact on AutoZone's fourth-quarter sales, noting that the average age of vehicles on American roads continues to rise.

For the full fiscal year, AutoZone earned $657 million, up from $641.6 million a year ago. Sales rose to $6.82 billion from $6.52 billion.

During the quarter AutoZone opened 58 new stores, closed one store, and replaced three stores in the United States. It also opened 20 stores in Mexico. As of Aug. 29, AutoZone had 4,229 stores in the United States and 188 stores in Mexico.

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