AutoZone has reported sales of $1.219 billion for its first fiscal quarter ended November 23, 2002, an increase of 4% from fiscal 2002.

Excluding the sales of the TruckPro subsidiary which was sold in December, 2001, sales increased 7%. Same store sales, or sales for domestic auto parts stores open at least one year, increased 4.5% during the quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter improved by more than 1%, while operating expenses, as a percent of sales, declined by more than 1%, resulting in a 15.5% operating margin. Net income for the quarter increased 25% to $105 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 37% to $1.04 from $0.76 reported in the year-ago quarter.

During the quarter, AutoZone opened 31 new stores, replaced one store and closed one store. At November 23, AutoZone had 3,098 stores in the US and 40 stores in Mexico.