* First-quarter revenue $2.09 bln vs est $2.10 bln
* Sales to U.S. repair chains jump 14 pct
* Earnings $6.29/share vs est $6.28
* Same-store sales rise 0.9 pct
* Shares rise as much as 6 pct
(Adds CEO comment, details; updates shares)
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
Dec 10 AutoZone Inc, the largest U.S.
auto parts retailer, reported a better-than-expected quarterly
profit as it focuses on its fast-growing business that sells to
auto repair chains to offset weakness in its main do-it-yourself
Vehicle parts retailers have been increasing sales to
garages, dealers and service stations as more Americans turn to
them to repair their increasingly complex vehicles.
AutoZone's shares rose as much as 6 percent to a record high
on Tuesday after the company reported a 7 percent jump in
profit, helped by a cooler-than-usual autumn and storms that
encouraged owners to service their vehicles ahead of winter.
The commercial repair business, or "do-it-for-me", is
already a major driver for AutoZone rivals such as O'Reilly
Automotive Inc, which gets more than 40 percent of its
revenue from auto service providers.
Memphis, Tennessee-based AutoZone is still playing catch up.
AutoZone's sales to commercial repair chains in the United
States jumped 14 percent in the first quarter ended Nov. 23, but
accounted for only about 16 percent of revenue.
One of AutoZone's priorities in 2014 will be to profitably
grow its commercial business, Chief Executive William Rhodes
said on a post-earnings conference call.
Auto parts retailers are also growing their commercial
businesses through acquisitions. Advance Auto Parts Inc
said in October it would buy General Parts International Inc to
create the largest North American retailer of auto parts.
AutoZone will slip to the No.2 position once the deal is
COLD WEATHER ADVANTAGE
U.S. auto parts retailers are also benefiting as demand
picks up after a warmer-than-usual winter reduced the need for
routine maintenance in 2012.
Stifel, Nicolaus & Co analyst David Schick said recent cold
weather across much of the country would likely result in higher
demand for parts for the next six months.
Analysts have also said recent investments in inventory and
store renovations should help AutoZone's sales.
The company said inventory increased 9.1 percent in the
quarter, partly driven by store openings. AutoZone had more than
4,800 stores in the United States as of Aug. 31.
The company's net income rose to $218.1 million, or $6.29
per share, in the first quarter from $203.5 million, or $5.41
per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 5 percent to $2.09
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $6.28 per share
on revenue of $2.10 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
AutoZone's shares were up 4 percent at $475.17 in afternoon
trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They have risen almost a
third in the past 12 months, outperforming the S&P 500 index
(Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)