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AutoZone (AZO) to Report Q4 Earnings: Is a Beat Likely?

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AutoZone, Inc. (AZO - Free Report) is slated to report fourth-quarter fiscal 2018 (ended Aug 25, 2018) results on Sep 18, before the market opens.

In the last-reported quarter, the company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In fact, it reported earnings beat in all the trailing four quarters. The average earnings surprise in the trailing four quarters was 5.8%. AutoZone has long-term growth rate of 13.3%.

In the past three months, AutoZone’s shares have underperformed the industry. The company’s shares have gained 10.4% compared with the industry’s increase of 15.7%.

AutoZone, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise

 

Let’s see how things are shaping up prior to this announcement.

Is Positive Surprise Likely?

According to our quantitative model, chances of AutoZone beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the fiscal fourth quarter are high. This is because, it has the right combination of the two key ingredients, a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better, which is required to increase the odds of an earnings beat.

You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Earnings ESP: Earnings ESP for AutoZone is +0.53%. This is because the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate are pegged at $17.97 and $17.87, respectively.

Zacks Rank: AutoZone currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). This, when combined with a positive ESP, makes us reasonably confident of an earnings beat.

Conversely, we caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is witnessing negative estimate revisions.

What’s Driving Better-Than-Expected Earnings?

With an aim to strengthen its competitive position in the market, AutoZone has been focusing on developing its commercial business through new sales program and inventory management. It frequently introduces commercial sales programs to drive sales and has set a target to come up with roughly 150 commercial programs in fiscal 2018. These initiatives enabled AutoZone to witness net sales rise of 1.6% year over year to $2.7 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2018.

Moreover, the company has been opening stores to increase sales. Since the beginning of January 2018, AutoZone opened 26 stores in the United States, followed by 12 in Mexico and two in Brazil. For fourth-quarter fiscal 2018, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for domestic stores is 5,615, out of which 564 will be from Mexico only. In the last-reported quarter, the total store count was 5,540, with 536 from Mexico.

Except for making investments, AutoZone also engages in share repurchase programs. This is enabled by the company’s strong financial performance. In March 2018, its board authorized to buy an additional $1 billion worth of common stock under its existing share repurchase program. It focuses on shareholders’ return while simultaneously maintaining adequate liquidity for its business strategies. In the last-reported quarter, AutoZone bought back 99,000 shares for $400 million.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are a few other auto stocks worth considering. As per our model, these comprise the right combination of elements to come up with an earnings beat this time around:

BorgWarner Inc. (BWA - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +0.28% and a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy)stocks here.

LKQ Corporation (LKQ - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +0.35% and a Zacks Rank #3.

WABCO Holdings Inc. (WBC - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +0.11% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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