Advance Auto Parts Defies Selloff

Advance Auto Parts' solid first-quarter earnings drive its shares higher on a severe down day for the rest of the equities markets.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Advance Auto Parts (AAP) - Get Report offered investors a ray of light in an otherwise bleak equities landscape Thursday -- along with evidence that recent turnaround moves by the company have started to kick in -- after it exceeded expectations with its first quarter on the back of a robust car-parts aftermarket.

The optimism pushed Advanced Auto's stock to a new 52-week high Thursday -- one of the few issues to gain ground as the European debt crisis and an unexpected pop in jobless claims gripped the broader market, sending the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

down as much as 300 points Thursday.

But as the company noted Wednesday night in its first-quarter earnings release, the business of selling replacement parts and repair services to customers who can't yet afford to buy new vehicles is a good place to be.

In late-afternoon trades, shares of Advance Auto were moving at $49.10, up $3.01, or 6.5%, on volume of 3.2 million shares, more than double the daily average turnover in the name. Earlier in the session, the stock touched $50.21, a new 52-week high.

After Wednesday's closing bell, the Roanoke, Va.-based chain reported first quarter earnings of $1.19 a share, beating the consensus estimate of $1 a share. A year ago, it earned 98 cents a share.

Sales amounted to $1.83 billion, up 8.7% from a year ago. The top-line figure also surpassed the consensus Wall Street forecast of $1.71 billion. Much of those gains came from an expansion strategy that added 57 new locations over the past twelve months.

Comparable store sales, meanwhile, gained 7.7%, a slower pace than the 8.2% gain registered in the same quarter last year.

The car-parts retailer hiked its outlook for the full-year by 14 cents from its previous per-share earnings guidance range of $3.20 to $3.40, reflecting a share repurchase program that was part of the company's efforts to shore up its balance sheet. Analysts had been looking for EPS of $3.31.

In the release, the company also said it would pay out its regular quarterly dividend of 6 cents a share. It will distribute the cash on July 9 to shareholders of record June 25.

Share prices among other parts retailers weren't performing nearly as well.

Pep Boys'

(PBY) - Get Report

stock was declining nearly 6%,

Monro Muffler Brake

(MNRO) - Get Report

was down 2%, and

AutoZone

(AZO) - Get Report

was flat on the day.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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