Zacks Investment Research cut shares of AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “AutoZone’s revenues are driven by store openings. During the last quarter, it opened 78 stores. Further, the company is opening mega hub stores and distribution centers to improvise its supply chain. Also, program openings under the commercial business aided company’s growth. Moreover, a strong cash flow enables it to pursue share repurchase programs. Over the three months, shares of AutoZone have outperformed the industry it belongs to. However, continuous rise in capital and operating expenses due to frequent opening of distribution centers and wage expenses are concerns for AutoZone. Also, increasing the frequency of deliveries to its stores is expected to pose as headwind for company’s gross margin. Moreover, dependence on seasonality and weather conditions makes AutoZone’s sales vulnerable to uncertain weather changes.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. Royal Bank of Canada cut their price target on AutoZone from $779.00 to $775.00 and set a sector perform rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, September 19th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lifted their price target on AutoZone to $880.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Wednesday, September 19th. Credit Suisse Group lifted their price target on AutoZone from $790.00 to $810.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Wednesday, September 5th. Stephens upgraded AutoZone from an equal weight rating to an overweight rating and set a $875.00 price target for the company in a research note on Wednesday, August 15th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, Citigroup lifted their price target on AutoZone from $850.00 to $985.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Monday. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, ten have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. AutoZone presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $866.74.

AZO stock opened at $868.68 on Monday. The stock has a market cap of $22.49 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.26, a P/E/G ratio of 1.23 and a beta of 0.89. AutoZone has a 52-week low of $590.76 and a 52-week high of $894.37.

AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, December 4th. The company reported $13.47 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $12.21 by $1.26. The business had revenue of $2.64 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.64 billion. AutoZone had a negative return on equity of 102.31% and a net margin of 12.49%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $10.00 EPS. Equities research analysts expect that AutoZone will post 58.25 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

AutoZone declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase program on Wednesday, September 26th that allows the company to repurchase $1.25 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to reacquire up to 6.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are generally a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Chairman William C. Rhodes III sold 23,700 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $780.06, for a total value of $18,487,422.00. Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 37,918 shares in the company, valued at approximately $29,578,315.08. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Director William Andrew Mckenna sold 3,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, October 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $747.15, for a total value of $2,241,450.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 8,268 shares in the company, valued at approximately $6,177,436.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 60,487 shares of company stock worth $46,667,608 in the last 90 days. Company insiders own 2.80% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Massey Quick Simon & CO. LLC raised its holdings in shares of AutoZone by 222.4% in the 3rd quarter. Massey Quick Simon & CO. LLC now owns 187 shares of the company’s stock worth $145,000 after purchasing an additional 129 shares during the period. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. raised its holdings in shares of AutoZone by 197.5% in the 2nd quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 235 shares of the company’s stock worth $158,000 after purchasing an additional 156 shares during the period. ELM Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of AutoZone in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $163,000. Flagship Harbor Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of AutoZone in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $173,000. Finally, Paragon Capital Management Ltd bought a new stake in shares of AutoZone in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $201,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 92.10% of the company’s stock.

About AutoZone

AutoZone Inc retails and distributes automotive replacement parts and accessories. The company offers various products for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans, and light trucks, including new and remanufactured automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories, and non-automotive products. Its products include A/C compressors, batteries and accessories, bearings, belts and hoses, calipers, carburetors, chassis, clutches, CV axles, engines, fuel pumps, fuses, ignition and lighting products, mufflers, radiators, starters and alternators, thermostats, and water pumps.

Featured Article: Short Selling – Explanation For Shorting Stocks

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on AutoZone (AZO)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for AutoZone (NYSE:AZO)

Receive News & Ratings for AutoZone Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for AutoZone and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.