UPDATE 1-Auto parts retailer AutoZone same-store sales miss estimates

Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:58am EDT

* Same-store sales up just 1 pct in fourth quarter

* Quarterly profit $10.42/share vs est $10.34

By Bijoy Anandoth Koyitty

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Auto parts retailer AutoZone Inc's quarterly same-store sales missed estimates as a recovering U.S. economy encouraged more consumers to buy new vehicles instead of repairing existing ones.

The company's same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose just 1 percent in the fourth quarter.

U.S. auto sales showed strong growth in each of the past three months, growing 17 percent in August, their fastest pace in nearly six years.

"The fourth quarter results from AutoZone continued to reflect a choppy environment for auto parts retail, with top-line trends decelerating 70 basis points on a two-year basis," Morgan Stanley analyst David Gober said in a note.

AutoZone had said in February that it was expecting demand to rebound in the second half of the year to Aug. 31. Warmer-than-usual winter last year had caused less wear and tear to vehicles, lowering demand for auto parts.

Initiatives such as new store launches are expected to improve sales in 2014, the company said on Wednesday.

AutoZone reported a higher-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter due to a lower tax rate.

Net income rose to $371.2 million, or $10.42 per share, in the quarter from $323.7 million, or $8.46 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased 12 percent to $3.1 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $10.34 per share on revenue of $3.09 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

AutoZone shares were up 0.5 percent at $416.42 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning.