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O'Reilly Automotive's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

No matter what role we play in the company from receiving, stocking, picking and shipping products at our distribution centers, to providing expert advice to our walk-in customers to prompt accurate parts deliveries to our professional customers, we all play a critical role in making sure the level of service we're able to provide our customers exceeds that of our competitors. And all of Team O'Reilly is to be congratulated on the excellent job you did delivering industry-leading customer service in 2011.

Now onto some details about our company's performance in the fourth quarter. As we discussed on our third quarter conference call, we forecasted fourth quarter comparable store sales in the range of 3% to 5%. We generated comp store sales in the lower end of our range at 3.3% for the quarter. As many of you that have followed our company and industry over the years know, the fourth quarter is always the toughest quarter to forecast comparable store sales.

A couple of factors play into the volatility of comps in the fourth quarter. The first is weather. It plays a key role in driving seasonal demand. As we said before, extreme temperatures, hot or cold, generally generate better demand in our business than mild conditions. This winter, most of our markets have had unusually mild weather up to this point.

The other factor is simply economic conditions. As financially stressed consumers took on the extra burden of discretionary holiday spending, we speculate that many deferred expenditures that could be deferred, including vehicle maintenance to some degree. That said, with the comparison against the 9.2% comps we had in the fourth quarter of 2010, we're reasonably pleased with our results.

As has been the case for sometime now, our comparable store sales growth is being driven primarily by the professional side of our business. Both in the CSK converted stores and the historical O'Reilly markets, the do-it-for-me side of our business is growing faster than the DIY. We speculate this is primarily a symptom of the economy whereas the typical do-it-for-me customer may not be as financially challenged as a typical DIY customer who primarily does their own vehicle maintenance out of economic necessity.

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