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%.