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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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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 87 400 9,366
MORTGAGES 95 486 11,746
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 2,278
BUILDING PERMITS 128 873 20,678
BANKRUPTCIES 46 286 7,336
BUSINESS LICENSES 20 123 3,312
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 72 525 11,279
MARRIAGE LICENSES 18 112 2,603

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