AutoZone Authorizes Buyback
AutoZone Inc. (NYSE:AZO) has authorized the repurchase of an additional $500 million of its common stock under its ongoing share repurchase program on top of an authorization of another $500 million in September this year.
Since the inception of the share repurchase program in 1998, AutoZone has authorized the repurchase of $9.9 billion worth of shares (including the new authorization). From January 1, 1998 to November 20, 2010, the company has repurchased 123 million shares at an aggregate cost of $9 billion.
As of November 20, 2010, AutoZone had $385.8 million worth of stock remaining under the Board’s authorization for repurchase. Subsequent to the above date, the company has repurchased 327,900 shares of its common stock at an aggregate cost of $84.8 million.
AutoZone’s share repurchase program has been supported by improved earnings and strong financials. In the first quarter of its fiscal 2011, the company recorded a 20.1% increase in profit to $172.1 million from $143.3 million in the same quarter of the prior fiscal year. On earnings per share basis, profits of $3.77 were higher than $2.82 in the year-ago quarter and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.43.
Net sales rose 12.7% to $1.79 billion. Domestic same store sales, i.e., sales for stores open at least one year, increased 9.5% during the quarter compared with 5.6% a year ago. The improvement in results can be attributed to the company’s aggressive store expansion strategy and a recovery in the macroeconomic environment.
In the quarter, AutoZone had a net cash flow of $328.7 million before share repurchases and changes in debt. This was an improvement from the year-ago level of $178.7 million.
AutoZone, a Zacks #3 Rank stock, is focused on aggressive expansion of its Hub store, acceleration of store maintenance and expansion in the size of its commercial sales force. During the first quarter of its fiscal year, the company has opened 15 stores and replaced 4 stores in the U.S., and opened 3 stores in Mexico.
As of November 20, 2010, the company had 4,404 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in the U.S. and 241 stores in Mexico.