AutoZone continues driving profitable results
Memphis, Tenn. — Strong third quarter results at AutoZone caused shares to surge on Tuesday and pushed the company’s stock toward the $300 mark.
Earnings per share at the company increased 28.5% to $5.29, besting analysts’ consensus estimate of $4.98, marking the 10th consecutive quarter in which earnings per share growth surpassed 20%. Sales increased 8.6% to $2 billion and same-store sales increased 5.3%. The comp growth was particularly noteworthy because AutoZone lapped increases from the two prior years when third-quarter comps grew 7.1% in 2010 and 7.4% in 2009.
In addition to the comp growth, a portion of the sales gain was related to the addition of 43 new stores in the U.S. and 12 new stores in Mexico, ensuring the company maintains its overall dominance in the market with a total of 4,467 U.S. units and 261 Mexican units.
Commenting on the results, AutoZone chairman, president and CEO Bill Rhodes said, “Our consistent, disciplined approach to enhancing our offerings through our ongoing initiatives is resonating with our customers, resulting in continued growth in market share.”
He highlighted the fact that the company for the first time exceeded the $1 billion mark on a trailing 12-month basis in is commercial business and also set a new record for return on invested capital of 30.2%.
“We remain committed to our disciplined approach of growing operating earnings while efficiently utilizing our capital,” Rhodes said.
The third-quarter results, while impressive, were a sequential slowdown from the second-quarter period ended Feb.12 when earnings per share advanced nearly 36% to $3.34 and same -tore sales advanced 7.1%.
GMA names EVP global strategies
WASHINGTON — Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), has announced the appointment of Sean Darragh as EVP global strategies, a newly created position within the association.
The EVP global strategies, is responsible for expanding GMA’s international program by defining and effectively executing a global policy and advocacy strategy that is fully integrated into the GMA strategic plan, the association reported.
Darragh currently serves as EVP international affairs at Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), where he leads BIO’s international regulatory and policy advocacy operations, and oversees BIO’s efforts to build its international presence, membership and global reach. Prior to taking on that role, he served as EVP for BIO’s Food and Agriculture Division, where he directed the diplomatic, legislative, regulatory and communications strategy for the Food and Agriculture Section.
Growth potential intact at Walmart China despite exec departures
Shenzhen, China— Walmart will be looking to capitalize on compelling growth prospects in China under the leadership of new senior executives following the simultaneous departure of CFO Roland Lawrence and COO Rob Cissell.
Both men left the company to pursue other development opportunities, according to Walmart, leaving leadership of Chinese business in the hands of Walmart China president and CEO Ed Chan and Wal-Mart Stores Asia president and CEO Scott Price.
The timing of the resignations by Lawrence and Cissell is curious given Walmart’s growth intentions in China, which were outlined in a meeting with investors in Shenzhen, China in late March. Lawrence was prominently involved in presentations to investors while Cissell was conspicuously absent during the webcast portion of the event.
Walmart offered no comment on the departure of the executives and did not name their replacements.
China currently accounts for about $7.5 billion of Walmart’s total revenues of roughly $420 billion, but its business results in the market have been a bit bumpy of late. Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon during a pre-recorded message in which he discussed first quarter results, singled out China, along with Mexico and Chile, as having the highest same-store sales growth and new store activity. Same-store sales in China grew 4.5% during the first quarter, but that gain was entirely due to an 11% increase in transaction size as customer traffic declined 5.8%.
In addition, McMillon noted that operating income declined slightly to an undisclosed level as expenses increased primarily due to higher payroll and tax costs and inventories rose by 11.4%. During the past 12 months, Walmart has opened 49 new stores in China and ended the first quarter with a total of 333 Chinese units.