Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why AutoZone Stock Lost 13% in February

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos – Mar 5, 2018 at 11:08AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The retailer's latest quarterly report didn't clear up major questions investors have about AutoZone's growth outlook.

What happened

AutoZone (AZO 0.16%) trailed the market last month, falling 13% compared to a 4% decrease in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts.

The decrease kept the auto parts giant's shares significantly below the returns of the broader market, down 10% over the past 12 months.

So what

Investors weren't pleased with AutoZone's quarterly report that was released near the end of the month. That announcement included steady revenue growth as comparable-store sales held steady at 2%. Profitability was positive, too, with gross margin ticking up to 52.9% of sales from 52.7% a year ago.

A shopper picks out windshield wiper fluid.

Image source: Getty Images.

On the other hand, net income just inched higher to miss consensus expectations as the retailer spent more heavily on wages and advertising.

Now what

CEO Bill Rhodes and his executive team recently announced plans to sell their Interamerican Motor Corporation and AutoAnything segments as part of their plans to refocus on their core retailing strengths of catering to both "do-it-yourself" and "do-it-for-me" automotive parts and services shoppers.

Meanwhile, it might take a few quarters, at least, before investors will know whether AutoZone's latest growth slowdown was a temporary speed bump driven by factors like unseasonable winter weather or the start of a disappointing long-term trend as e-commerce giants elbow in on its dominant market position.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.