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solzberg in Gainers & Losers,

AutoZone's stock to hit $850 mark in medium term

I remain upbeat about the shares of AutoZone, one of the US leading specialty retailers of automotive replacement parts and accessories. Average age of vehicles in the US has climbed to 11.4 years, the highest ever, and at the same time, lower gas prices and higher employment have American drivers putting more miles on their cars, creating a booming market for replacement parts. That trend may cause auto-part consumption to grow 3-4% for the next four years, experts say. These factors, I believe, will bode well for AutoZone's business going forward.

In late March, AutoZone’s board of directors increased its share repurchase authorization by $750 mn, which brought the funds available for buybacks to around $1.3 bn. So, the company remains focused on enhancing shareholder returns, while simultaneously maintaining adequate liquidity for its business strategies. In our view, the company has enough liquidity to repurchase shares without compromising on financial strength and, therefore, credit ratings.

AutoZone financials for its fiscal 2016 second quarter were solid. Revenues increased 5.3% y-o-y supported by comps growth of 3.6% as well as new store openings, while adjusted ESP jumped 14.3% comfortably beating analysts’ average projection. The company plans to issue third-quarter results on May 24, and I believe it will be able to positively surprise investors again.

Shares of AutoZone are trading above their 50-day moving average. I expect the stock to continue to rise, with medium-term target at $850.