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VOL. 129 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 03, 2014

Moody's Upgrades AutoZone's Credit Rating

AP

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NEW YORK (AP) – Moody's Investors Service raised the credit rating of AutoZone Inc. by one notch on Thursday, saying that the auto-parts retailer is benefiting as drivers hang on to their cars longer.

Moody's boosted AutoZone's unsecured debt to "Baa1" from "Baa2" and assigned it a "stable" outlook, concluding a review that began on Dec. 16. "Baa1" is three notches above speculative-grade or "junk" status.

The ratings firm said it took into account AutoZone's "solid" financial measurements, which are being helped by the average age of vehicle and the number of miles driven. Its Duralast brand earns higher profit margins than competitors, Moody's said.

The company reported last month that first-quarter net income rose 7 percent to $218.1 million on a 5 percent increase in revenue.

AutoZone, based in Memphis, Tenn., also announced last month that it increased its stock-repurchase program by $750 million. Companies buy back their own stock to bolster the share price and improve earnings per share. Moody's said Thursday that although AutoZone "has an aggressive share repurchase program, its overall financial policy is balanced," and management keeps borrowing within a target range.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 86 313 4,762
MORTGAGES 97 409 6,640
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 34 147 1,475
BUILDING PERMITS 0 705 11,294
BANKRUPTCIES 53 311 4,525
BUSINESS LICENSES 41 177 1,983
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 64 436 6,253
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 132 1,373

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