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AutoZone Earnings Jump

Net income rises 13.8% on a 5.6% increase in sales.
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Updated from 8:18 a.m.


(AZO) - Get AutoZone, Inc. Report

said third-quarter earnings jumped 13.8% from a year ago on a 5.6% rise in sales, as sales to manufacturers were brisk and expenses remained in check.

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The auto-parts supplier earned $143.4 million, or $1.68 a share, in the quarter ended May 8, up from $126.0 million, or $1.30 a share, last year. Sales in the most recent quarter were $1.36 billion compared with $1.29 billion a year ago. The company said retail same-store sales rose 1% in the latest quarter compared with last year, while commercial same-store sales rose 10%.

Adjusted to exclude an accounting change and certain one-time items, AutoZone earned $136.8 million, or $1.61 a share, in the latest quarter. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of $1.55 a share on sales of $1.36 billion. The stock was recently down 13 cents, or 0.16%, to $83.25 on the Instinet premarket session.

Excluding the special items, AutoZone said, gross margin in the 2004 third quarter was 46.4%, compared with 45.5% a year ago. Selling, general and administrative expense was 28.7% of sales, compared with 28.4% a year ago. The slightly higher percentage in SG&A expense reflected costs to renovate 81 stores during the latest quarter and the opening of 151 commercial programs.