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Advance Auto Parts 3Q profit falls on weaker sales

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 10:30 am •  Published: November 8, 2012
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Advance Auto Parts said Thursday that its third-quarter net income fell about 15 percent as sales dipped and it spent more money to attract customers.

The Roanoke, Va., seller of auto parts and batteries said it earned $89.5 million, or $1.21 per share, for the quarter ended Oct. 6, down from $105.5 million, or $1.41 per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell less than one percent to $1.46 billion.

Revenue at stores open at least a year decreased nearly 2 percent. That's an important measure for retailers because it excludes results from newly opened or closed stores.

The results matched previous third-quarter guidance provided by the company last month.

Its shares rose 49 cents to $80.25 in morning trading Thursday.

Advance Auto Parts faced "weak consumer demand" in both do-it-yourself and commercial sales, CEO Darren R. Jackson said in a conference call with investors.

Jackson said volatility in gas prices played a role in consumer spending during the quarter. It also experienced softer sales in cold-weather markets.

The company expects that the auto parts industry will remain soft for the remainder of the year, but remains encouraged by long-term industry fundamentals.

Executives also declined to comment on media reports that Advance Auto Parts has hired private equity firm Blackstone to facilitate a sale of the company and that at least three private equity firms were exploring possible bids.

When vehicle sales tumbled a few years ago, auto parts retailers such as Advance Auto Parts got a sales boost, as more Americans kept their vehicles longer and invested more in keeping them running.

But Americans have been buying new cars and trucks at a healthy pace in recent months, fueled by low interest rates and aging cars that need replacement. Americans also are feeling better about the economy and jobs, key drivers of sales.

Advance Auto Parts has been focused on streamlining and simplifying its organization to reduce costs and minimize the impact to sales and service levels.

Selling, general and administrative expenses grew more than one percent, but made up a larger part of its sales for the quarter as the company increased spending on promotions and advertising aimed at driving up customer traffic and maintain market share in a soft consumer environment.

The company reaffirmed its full-year earnings forecast of between $5.05 and $5.15 per share.

Advance Auto Parts Inc., which operates more than 3,725 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, opened 35 stores during the quarter and 70 stores this fiscal year. It said it remains on pace to open between 120 and 140 stores in fiscal 2012.

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Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.


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