AutoZone Inc.’s stock AZO slid 3% premarket Tuesday, after the car parts retailer beat profit estimates for its fiscal third quarter but sales fell short after a weaker-than-expected March. Memphis, Tenn.-based AutoZone had net income of $648.7 million, or $34.12 a share, for the quarter to May 6, up from $592.6 million, or $29.03 a share, in the year-earlier period. Sales rose to $4.091 billion from $3.865 billion a year ago. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of $31.50 and sales of $4.123 billion. Same-store sales rose 1.9%, while FactSet was expecting a 4.1% increase. “While weaker than expected sales for the month of March meaningfully affected our results this quarter, we are excited about our initiatives and believe we are well positioned for future growth,” CEO Bill Rhodes said in a statement. The company repurchased 356,000 shares in the quarter for $908.2 million at an average price of $2,551 a share. The stock closed Monday at $2619.80. Inventory rose 7.4% from the year-earlier period, driven by inflation and growth initiatives. The company opened 22 new stores in the U.S. during the quarter, six in Mexico and two in Brazil. The stock has gained 6% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 SPX has gained 9%.
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