AutoZone (AZO) reports its latest quarterly results on Tuesday. Year to date, AZO has stalled out, down 7%. Can the stock shift gears and go higher or is it in need of a tow?
Back in December, I thought investors should wait for a correction before venturing into the zone. Now, I'm not so sure.
For the second quarter of fiscal year 2017 (ends October), analysts are expecting earnings of $8.19 per share on revenue of $2.34 billion.
AutoZone operates in two major segments: Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) and Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY). The Auto Care Association estimates there are 260 million light vehicles in operation. There are approximately 40 million to 45 million used vehicles sales per year and the service business is about $268 billion in size.
The DIFM market is typically made up of independent mechanics who fix older cars that are out of warranty. Generally speaking, these cars are seven years or older. Mechanics need spare parts in less than two hours so customers can get back on the road.
Thus, AutoZone and on-time delivery is a very important part of an auto mechanics business. The company estimates it has just 3% of the DIFM market.
Meanwhile, the DIY market is made up of individuals who like to work on their own cars.
DIFM is estimated to be a $67 billion market and has a 10-year consolidated annualized growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%, while the DIY market is about $54 billion in size and has a 10-year CAGR of 3%.
AutoZone is expanding its enhanced delivery program to 1,300 locations. Enhanced delivery sends parts to the store three to five times per week versus just once a week. Over the next three years the company plans to open up to 225 hub locations and 40 mega-hub locations to speed delivery of parts to stores and auto mechanics.
The company ended the first quarter with 5,835 stores. It has approximately 483 units in Mexico and is adding 40 annually. AutoZone operates eight stores in Brazil.
Investors love the consistent growth that AutoZone has been able to deliver. Over the last 10 years, it was able to deliver earnings growth of 18.4%, EBIT growth of 7.4% and revenue growth over 6%.
In early December, AutoZone reported fiscal first-quarter EPS of $9.36, $0.04 better than expected. Revenue rose 3.9%, year to year, to $2.47 billion.
While the first-quarter results were in line with expectations, the 1.6% same-store sales figure was below the Wall Street estimate and far below the year-earlier 3.5% comp. Management blamed the election and weather disruptions in various parts of the country for the poor same-store sales.
DIFM sales increased 6.3% and DIY rose 3.1%. Total earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) widened 24 basis points to 18.6% of sales on a 23-basis-point increase in gross margin.
In the last year, AutoZone shares have swung between $713 and $819. Because of such a wide range and choppy action, I am cautious on the stock. The company's push into "enhanced delivery" is a very expensive initiative.
In mid-January, management made a promise to hire more than 12,000 new full-time and part-time employees nationwide through April. More hubs, enhanced delivery and more employees make me wary about the company's ability to deliver earnings that can beat the consensus estimate.
I think the stock will be stuck in neutral for a while.