AutoZone reported significantly weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit, sending its stock to its biggest-ever price decline.
The auto parts retailer said Tuesday that third-quarter net income rose to $331.7 million, or $11.44 a share, from $327.5 million, or $10.77 a share, in the same period a year ago, while net sales increased 1.0% to $2.6 billion.
Analysts had estimated earnings per share of $11.99 on revenue of $2.71 billion. Domestic same-store sales declined 0.8%, well below the consensus estimate for 2.7% growth.
On news of the earnings, AutoZone shares tumbled $78.09, or 11.8%, on Tuesday to the lowest close since Jan. 16, 2015. It was the stock’s biggest one-day percentage decline since it fell 12.0% on Nov. 19, 2008 and the price decline was the biggest since the stock started trading on April 2, 1991.
AutoZone CEO Bill Rhodes said sales during the first five weeks of the quarter were “challenged” by delays in IRS tax refunds. “The last seven weeks of sales demonstrated improvement, but not enough to make up for our soft start,” he said.
As MarketWatch reports, the company has now missed profit expectations for just two straight quarters, same-store sales estimates for five straight quarters and revenue expectations for seven straight quarters.
“Most of the key metrics we use to evaluate retailers have taken a turn for the worse over the past two quarters,” analyst Dan Wewer at Raymond James said in a client note.
The stock had already fallen 16.5% year to date through Monday amid reports that Amazon is getting into the $50 billion auto parts business. The e-commerce behemoth has reached agreements with several leading parts makers.
Some analysts, however, believe auto parts stores are somewhat insulated from online competition because, among other things, parts shopping is very time-sensitive, with professional customers requiring turnaround times from order to delivery of 30 to 60 minutes.
“Notwithstanding macro headwinds, including increasing wage pressures, we are confident in our long term positive fundamentals for sales growth, and we remain committed to driving shareholder value,” Rhodes said.