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Quick Hits: AutoZone Revs Up Sales

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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The downbeat economy may be good for auto parts retailers, as more drivers do basic repairs themselves in order to save money.

AutoZone (AZO) says fourth-quarter sales increased 10.4% from the same period last year. Net income for fourth-quarter 2008 increased 12.2% to $243.7 million, and earnings rose 20.1%, to $3.88 per share.

For the fiscal year ended August 30th, AutoZone's sales totaled $6.5 billion, an increase of 5.7% from 2007; domestic same store sales were up 0.4%. Net income rose 7.7% to $642 million, and earnings per share rose 17.8%, to $10.04 from $8.53.

Excluding results from the additional week, AutoZone's sales increased 3.7% over the prior year and operating profits rose 4%. Net income increased 5.1% to $626 million; earnings per share increased 14.9% to $9.80.

In the fourth quarter, AutoZone opened 60 new stores and replaced 6 others in the US; 18 new stores opened in Mexico. On August 30th, the company had 4,092 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 148 stores in Mexico.

AutoZone repurchased 3.9 million common shares for $499 million in the fourth quarter at an average price of $128 per share. In fiscal year 2008, AutoZone repurchased 6.8 million shares valued at $849 million, or an average price of $125 a share.

AutoZone's competitors include Pep Boys (PBY), Advance Auto Parts (AAP) and O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY).

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