The Good News: AutoZone

AutoZone ( AZO) is showing that when times get tough, Americans take a can do-it-yourself attitude.

The Memphis, Tenn., retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories on Tuesday reported an 8.6% increase in fiscal second-quarter profit that surpassed Wall Street expectations.

"During these challenging economic times, we believe our merchandise and service offerings provide a compelling shopping experience for both our do-it-yourself and professional customers," said Bill Rhodes, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "At the end of the second quarter, our balance sheet was in excellent condition, and we remain committed to our disciplined approach of growing operating earnings while utilizing our capital effectively.''

AutoZone shares were recently soaring 12.3%, up $17.15, to $157.18.

Meanwhile, General Motors ( GM) struggles with almost half-century low sales and a stock price that recently hit a 70-year low. It's not only GM. Ford ( F) and Chrysler sales also are down, as are sales of European and Asian automakers. Toyota ( GM) today said it needs loans from the Japanese government, as it forecasts its first loss in 59 years.

"We are pleased to report our 10th consecutive quarter of double digit earnings per share growth," Rhodes said. "We remain committed to growing our business through a relentless focus on customer service, continual refinement of our product offerings and ongoing improvements to grow our commercial sales, all while managing our expenses appropriately."

AutoZone earned $115.9 million, or $2.03 per share, compared with $106.7 million, or $1.67 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Sales rose 8.1% to $1.45 billion, while domestic same-store sales jumped 6%.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of $1.85 per share on $1.38 billion in sales.

AutoZone opened 20 new stores and closed one store U.S. during the quarter. The company also opened eight stores in Mexico. As of Feb. 14, AutoZone had 4,141 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 158 stores in Mexico.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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