AutoZone All-Time High After Earnings

Shares Car parts chain Autozone jumped to a new record high after it reported fiscal first-quarter profit rose 8% on higher sales and improved gross margins.

For the quarter ended Nov. 18, the company earned $123.9 million, or $1.73 a share, from $114.4 million, or $1.48 a share, during the same period a year ago. The per-share profit increase was 16%, reflecting the repurchase of 816,000 shares during the quarter.

Sales climbed 4% to $1.39 billion from $1.34 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of $1.68 a share on sales of $1.39 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, edged up 0.3% for the quarter.

Autozone said its gross margin improved thanks largely to favorable pricing and product mix, as well as a focus on direct importing programs.

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