Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) are in need of a major tune-up. But whatever pain these two auto giants are feeling apparently hasn't trickled down to auto parts providers such as Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), and Genuine Parts (NYSE:GPC). The latest results show that Genuine Parts has kept the engine revving at a nice, steady pace.

Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2005 totaled $2.3 billion, 7% higher from the same period a year ago. Its auto parts division, the largest segment of its business, grew by 4% for the quarter, while the company's industrial group grew the fastest, at a rate of 13%. Its office products group and electronics group, meanwhile, increased by 6% and 1%, respectively.

Perhaps most impressive was that operating margins remained consistent despite the significant challenges of high oil and energy costs, high steel prices, and the expenses associated with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Operating profit margins for the period were 7.4%, the same level from the year-ago quarter.

With dependable sales and profit margins, Genuine Parts didn't surprise anyone by meeting its earnings expectations. The company earned $106.6 million, or $0.61 per share -- 7% growth year over year.

Despite the earnings growth, though, the company's structural free cash flow (owner earnings) declined slightly from a year ago. For the current quarter, owner earnings were $102.9 million, down marginally from $104.3 million mark last year. The decrease was caused by a 72% spike in capital expenditures.

However, as this cash works its way down into its balance sheet, Genuine Parts is in a little better shape than it was a year ago. Cash and equivalents for the current period were $157.8 million, with long-term debt of $500 million. The heavy debt-to-cash ratio is not much of an improvement, and that indicates that the enterprise has a way to go to solidify this key component.

In addition, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19 far outpaces any reasonable growth estimate. The current price tag for Genuine Parts does not offer much margin of safety for prospective investors.

Cruise control is cool for a Sunday drive, but it's a good way to be blown away on the stock market autobahn. This Fool's opinion: Be patient and wait for a better deal.

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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.