Parts and accessory retailer AutoZone, Inc. has reported sales of $US1.836 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter ended August 28, 2004, an increase of 0.3% from fiscal 2003.

Same store sales, or sales for domestic stores open at least one year, decreased 3% for the quarter. Gross profit improved 1.6% while operating expenses increased 1.5%. The operating margin of 19.8% was up 0.1% from last year and operating profit increased 1.0%.

Net income for the quarter increased by 0.9% over the same period last year to $209 million, and earnings per share increased 11.2% to $2.53 per share from $2.27.

For the fiscal year ended August 28, sales were $5.637 billion, an increase of 3.3% from the prior year, while same store sales were flat. Operating profit increased 8.8% on an operating margin of 17.7%. Full year net income increased 9.4% to $566 million, while earnings per share increased 22.8% to $6.56 from $5.34.

During the fourth quarter, AutoZone opened 77 new stores, closed 1 store, re-opened 7 stores under the AutoZone brand formerly operated as ABC Auto Parts, a regional auto parts chain, and replaced 2 stores in the US while additionally opening 3 new stores in Mexico. It now has 3,420 stores in the US and 63 stores in Mexico.