AutoZone Earnings Call Nuggets: Commercial Business and Fluctuating Tax Refunds

AutoZone Inc (NYSE:AZO) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Commercial Business

Kate McShane – Citigroup: My question is on the commercial business. I think you had said during the prepared comments that you expect 300 new programs for 2013. Is that correct?

William C. Rhodes, III – Chairman, President and CEO: That’s correct.

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Kate McShane – Citigroup: Okay, which sounds in line with what you did in 2012, so I was just wondering with your investment, your emphasis on investment in commercial and the hub system and the sales force, why we can’t see an acceleration in this program growth this year?

William C. Rhodes, III – Chairman, President and CEO: Yeah. Actually, it’s going to be down this year, but that’s consistent with our plan. Last year we opened 400 programs. This year we are saying we are going to open roughly 300 programs. We want to make sure that we – the most important part of opening a commercial program is to make sure that we have the right resources in place and particularly the right people resources. One of the things we learned last year when we opened 400 programs, it was a strain to make sure that we had the right people in place to start those programs. This year we’ve decided to back off a little bit, but opening 300 programs is still a pretty aggressive growth trajectory. We just want to make sure that we do it right. We are in this for the long-term and we think 300 program growth, which is roughly 10%, is pretty aggressive.