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Wednesday September 27, 2023

Finance News


AutoZone Releases Earnings Report

AutoZone, Inc. (AZO) released its fourth quarter and full year earnings report on Tuesday, September 19. The auto parts company's shares dropped almost 2% after the company reported weaker domestic sales compared to its international segment.

The company reported net sales of $5.69 billion during the quarter, exceeding analysts' expectations of $5.61 billion. This was up 6.4% from $5.35 billion in sales during the same quarter last year. Full-year sales returned at $17.46 billion, up from $16.25 billion reported for fiscal 2022.

"I would like to congratulate and thank our entire organization for the solid performance they delivered in our fourth quarter and fiscal year," said AutoZone CEO, Bill Rhodes. "Our customer service and trustworthy advice are what continue to differentiate us across the industry, and our AutoZoners' commitment to delivering exceptional service has allowed us to continue to deliver strong financial results."

AutoZone reported net income of $864.84 million for the quarter or $46.46 per adjusted share. This was up from $810.04 million or $40.51 per adjusted share in the same quarter last year. Full-year net income was $2.53 billion, up from $2.43 billion one year ago.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based company saw a 1.7% increase in their domestic same store sales, and a 34.1% increase in international same store sales for the quarter. During the fourth quarter, AutoZone closed one store but opened 96 net new stores, including 53 new stores in the U.S., 27 in Mexico and 17 in Brazil. Currently, the company has a combined total of 7,140 stores globally. The company's new store growth resulted in the company's inventory increasing 2.2% over the same period last year.

AutoZone, Inc. (AZO) shares ended the week at $2,570.27, up 1.8% for the week.

General Mills Posts Quarterly Earnings

General Mills, Inc. (GIS) posted its first quarter earnings on Wednesday, September 20. The company's stock remained relatively unchanged following the earnings report's release.

Net sales totaled $4.9 billion for the quarter, up 4% from $4.7 billion one year ago. Quarterly revenue surpassed analysts' estimates of $4.88 billion.

"We delivered growth on the top and bottom lines in the first quarter amid an evolving external environment characterized by moderating inflation, stabilizing supply chains, and a resilient but increasingly cautious consumer," said General Mills CEO, Jeff Harmening. "Looking ahead, we will remain focused on executing our Accelerate strategy and driving strong growth for our brands."

The company reported net income of $673.5 million or $1.14 per adjusted share for the quarter. This was down 18% from $820.0 million or $1.35 per adjusted share during the same quarter last year.

General Mills reported that operating profit decreased 14% to $930 million for the quarter, due to higher selling, general and administrative expenses, higher restructuring charges and lower gross profit dollars. In the first quarter, General Mills saw a 3% increase to $3.1 billion in net sales for its North America Retail segment. The Pet segment remained relatively unchanged and reached $580 million during the quarter. The company's International segment was up 10% to $716 million in net sales.

General Mills, Inc. (GIS) shares ended the week at $64.82, down 1.2% for the week.

FedEx Delivers Earnings

FedEx Corp. (FDX) released its first quarter earnings report on Wednesday, September 20. Despite the company reporting a decrease in quarterly revenue, its stock jumped almost 6% following the release of the report.

Revenue came in at $21.7 billion for the quarter, down 7% from $23.2 billion at this time last year. This was slightly below analysts' expected quarterly revenue of $21.8 billion.

"We started fiscal 2024 with strong momentum as our global transformation actions take hold and drive improved results," said FedEx CEO, Raj Subramaniam. "FedEx is well-positioned to continue to deliver improved profitability while becoming an even more flexible, efficient and data-driven organization."

The company posted net income of $1.1 billion for the quarter. This was up from $875 million one year ago.

FedEx reported a decline in revenue across nearly all major segments. The company saw a 9% decline of $10.1 billion year-over-year for their FedEx Express segment, and its FedEx Ground segment rose 3% to $8.4 billion. FedEx Freight saw a 16% drop off to $2.3 billion. FedEx's DRIVE program initiatives and sustained emphasis on revenue quality were the primary drivers behind the company's improved first-quarter results. FedEx revised its fiscal 2024 outlook to $15.10 to $16.60 earnings per adjusted share from its prior forecast of $15 to $17 earnings per adjusted share.

FedEx (FDX) shares ended the week at $261.09, up 2.8% for the week.

The Dow started the week of 9/18 at 34,612 and closed at 33,964 on 9/22. The S&P 500 started the week at 4,445 and closed at 4,320. The NASDAQ started the week at 13,670 and closed at 13,212.

Treasury Yields Vary

U.S. Treasury Yields rose to the highest levels seen in almost 20 years as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve's policy decision to hold steady on interest rates. Yields pulled back from record highs at the end of the week as the markets digested the latest employment data revealing the lowest levels of unemployment claims seen in the past 8 months.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced its decision to not increase interest rates and hold rates steady in the range of 5.25% to 5.5%. However, the Federal Reserve signaled that it expects one more rate hike before the end of the year to help combat rising inflation.

"Overall, while acknowledging a slowdown in job growth, the Fed remains committed to keeping rates higher for longer, contrasting with market expectations that remain focused on rate cuts late in the first quarter or early second quarter of 2024," said Managing Director of Fixed Income at Key Private Bank, Rajeev Sharma. "According to today's statement, rate cuts are not coming until we see further cooling on the inflation front."

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield opened the week of September 18 at 4.33% and traded as high as 4.50% on Thursday. The 30-year Treasury bond opened the week at 4.42% and traded as high as 4.59% on Thursday.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment decreased by 20,000 to 201,000 for the week ending September 16. Continuing unemployment claims increased by 21,000 to 1.66 million.

"Business owners can expand when they want to, they can selectively backfill rows, workers who have been laid off have a relatively easy time finding a new job, and all of those are really encouraging cycles that kind of head off any recessionary signals we might be seeing," said Economist at Gusto, Luke Pardue.

The 10-year Treasury note yield finished the week of 9/18 at 4.44%, while the 30-year Treasury note yield finished the week at 4.53%.

Mortgage Rates Remain High

Freddie Mac released its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Thursday, September 21. The survey showed 30-year mortgage rates continuing to remain above 7% despite the Federal Reserve's pause on interest rate hikes.

This week, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 7.19%, up from last week's average of 7.18%. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 6.29%.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 6.54% this week, up from 6.51% last week. During the same week last year, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.44%.

"Mortgage rates continue to linger above 7% as the Federal Reserve paused their interest rate hikes," said Freddie Mac's Chief Economist, Sam Khater. "Given these high rates, housing demand is cooling off and now homebuilders are feeling the effect. Builder sentiment declined for the first time in several months and construction levels have dipped to a three-year low, which could have an impact on the already low housing supply."

Based on published national averages, the savings rate was 0.45% as of 9/18. The one-year CD averaged 1.76%.

Editor's Note: The publicly available financial information is offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends. This article is not an endorsement of any company, product or service.

Published September 22, 2023
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