* Q3 EPS $3.13/shr vs est $2.89/shr
* Q3 sales up 9 pct
* Shares down 2.2 pct
BOSTON, May 27 AutoZone Inc (AZO.N) reported a
9 percent rise in profit that beat consensus estimates as a
slumping economy led more Americans to repair their existing
cars instead of buying new ones.
Shares of the largest U.S. auto parts retailer fell 2.2
percent in premarket trading on Wednesday, with analysts noting
that investors expected more from the company after a string of
solid profit reports.
"While the (comparison) was very good, we are a bit
surprised the company wasn't able to post a bigger earnings
surprise," wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Scot Ciccarelli in
a note to clients. "Nevertheless, expectations may have been
even a bit higher."
The Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported fiscal third
quarter profit of $173.7 million, or $3.13 per diluted share,
up from $158.6 million, or $2.49 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had looked for profit of $2.89 per
share, according to Reuters Estimates.
AutoZone's top executive noted that the sharp drop in
gasoline prices -- which are down about 44 percent from last
summer's record high above $4 a gallon -- also helped results.
"The current economic environment, combined with the
reduction in fuel prices compared to last year, has clearly
been beneficial to our industry's performance," Chief Executive
Bill Rhodes said in a statement.
Net sales rose 9 percent to $1.66 billion during the
Its shares fell 2.2 percent to $159.23 in premarket
trading. They have risen about 28 percent over the past year,
at a time when the broad Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX is
down 34 percent.
The deep U.S. recession has thrown the nation's auto
industry into turmoil, forcing Chrysler LLC to file for
bankruptcy at the end of April and bringing General Motors Corp
(GM.N) to the brink of it.
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston, additional reporting by
Dhanya Ann Thoppil in Bangalore; Editing by Derek Caney)