SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual Report pursuant to section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
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The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold, or the average bid and asked price of such common equity, as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $
The number of shares of Common Stock outstanding as of October 16, 2023, was
Documents Incorporated By Reference
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement to be filed within 120 days of August 26, 2023, pursuant to Regulation 14A under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held December 20, 2023, are incorporated by reference into Part III.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certain statements contained in this annual report constitute forward-looking statements that are subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements typically use words such as “believe,” “anticipate,” “should,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “expect,” “estimate,” “project,” “positioned,” “strategy,” “seek,” “may,” “could” and similar expressions. These are based on assumptions and assessments made by our management in light of experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors that we believe to be appropriate. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including without limitation: product demand, due to changes in fuel prices, miles driven or otherwise; energy prices; weather, including extreme temperatures, natural disasters and general weather conditions; competition; credit market conditions; cash flows; access to available and feasible financing on favorable terms; future stock repurchases; the impact of recessionary conditions; consumer debt levels; changes in laws or regulations; risks associated with self-insurance; war and the prospect of war, including terrorist activity; the impact of public health issues; inflation, including wage inflation; the ability to hire, train and retain qualified employees, including members of management and other key personnel; construction delays; failure or interruption of our information technology systems; issues relating to the confidentiality, integrity or availability of information, including due to cyber-attacks; historic growth rate sustainability; downgrade of our credit ratings; damage to our reputation; challenges associated with doing business in and expanding into international markets; origin and raw material costs of suppliers; inventory availability; disruption in our supply chain; impact of tariffs; impact of new accounting standards; our ability to execute our growth initiatives; and other business interruptions. Certain of these risks and uncertainties are discussed in more detail in the “Risk Factors” section contained in Item 1A under Part 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended August 26, 2023, and these Risk Factors should be read carefully. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results, developments and business decisions may differ from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Events described above and in the “Risk Factors” could materially and adversely affect our business. However, it should be understood that it is not possible to identify or predict all such risks and other factors that could affect these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. Except as required by applicable law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Item 1. Business
AutoZone, Inc. (“AutoZone,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”) is the leading retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories in the Americas. We began operations in 1979 and at August 26, 2023, operated 6,300 stores in the United States (“U.S.”), 740 stores in Mexico and 100 stores in Brazil. Each store carries an extensive product line for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and light duty trucks, including new and remanufactured automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories and non-automotive products. At August 26, 2023, in 5,682 of our domestic stores as well as the vast majority of our stores in Mexico and Brazil, we had a commercial sales program that provided commercial credit and prompt delivery of parts and other products to local, regional and national repair garages, dealers, service stations, fleet owners and other accounts. We also sell automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories and non-automotive products through www.autozone.com, and our commercial customers can make purchases through www.autozonepro.com. Additionally, we sell the ALLDATA brand of automotive diagnostic, repair, collision and shop management software through www.alldata.com. We also provide product information on our Duralast branded products through www.duralastparts.com. We do not derive revenue from automotive repair or installation services.
Human Capital Resources
We believe the foundation of our success is our culture, which is rooted in our Pledge and Values and defines how our employees (“AutoZoners”) take care of customers and fellow AutoZoners. Each AutoZoner works hard to Live the Pledge, share their passion for WOW! Customer Service and Go the Extra Mile every day to continue building and growing AutoZone for our customers.
We seek to be the employer of choice as we compete for talent in our retail stores, field supervision, distribution centers, and store support functions. We focus heavily on retention by offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, extensive training and development opportunities and leveraging our business resource groups to support AutoZoners across the organization contribute their voices, time, and talent to helping other AutoZoners succeed in their careers.
As of August 26, 2023, we employed approximately 119,000 AutoZoners, approximately 60 percent of whom were employed full-time and the remaining 40 percent were employed part-time. About 91 percent of our AutoZoners were employed in stores or in direct field supervision, approximately 6 percent in distribution centers and approximately 3 percent in store support and other functions. Included in the above numbers are approximately 15,500 AutoZoners employed in our international operations. We have never experienced any material labor disruption, do not have any collective bargaining agreements and believe that relations with our AutoZoners are good.
Training & Development
We have a number of different types of jobs and career opportunities. While many of our AutoZoners follow more traditional career paths (e.g., part-time to full-time sales, store manager, district manager, regional manager, vice president), we encourage cross-functional development and support of AutoZoners as they expand their career into other departments and fields of interest within the Company. Many members of our senior leadership team have held positions in multiple areas of the business. We also invest in advanced leadership training in order to deepen our bench strength and support succession planning. For additional information, see “Store Operations—Store Personnel Training and Incentives” below. We believe these opportunities are important to attract, motivate and retain high quality AutoZoners.
The AutoZone Pledge and Values drive our success and foster a strong, unique culture of teamwork and customer service. We encourage the recognition of AutoZoners for a variety of accomplishments, such as going above and
beyond to deliver Trustworthy Advice and WOW! Customer Service, taking initiative to prevent incidents and injuries, making contributions to help detect or report internal or external theft or providing significant service to help others. Whether they work in our stores, distribution centers, support centers or travel to support our customers and business, we believe AutoZoners everywhere should be recognized for their efforts and outstanding performance. We also recognize AutoZoners for their years of service to the organization and our customers.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”)
“Embraces Diversity” is one of our Values, and we have made great strides in our DEI initiatives. With the oversight and support of a cross-functional Diversity Council and DEI Steering Committee, our DEI efforts influence and inform many parts of our human capital management efforts including talent acquisition, retention, professional development and workforce management. Our first business resource group (“BRG”) was established in 2014 (AutoZone Women’s Initiative). Since then, five other BRGs now exist to help AutoZoners across the organization grow and succeed in their careers.
Health and Safety
We are committed to providing a safe working and shopping environment for our AutoZoners and customers. Aligned with our values, we strive to continually monitor our working and shopping environment to keep our AutoZoners and customers as safe as possible.
Additional information about our human capital resources can be found in our most recent Environmental, Social & Governance (“ESG”) Report, which is available on our website. Our ESG Report is not, and will not be deemed to be, a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or incorporated by reference into this or any of our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“the SEC”).
At August 26, 2023 our stores were in the following locations:
Total Domestic stores
Substantially all stores are based on standard store formats, resulting in generally consistent appearance, merchandising and product mix. Approximately 90% to 99% of each store’s square footage is selling space. In our satellite stores, approximately 40% to 50% of our space is dedicated to hard parts inventory, while our hub and mega hub stores have 70% to 85% of their space utilized for hard parts. The hard parts inventory area is generally fronted by counters or pods that run the depth or length of the store, dividing the hard parts area from the remainder of the store. The remaining selling space contains displays of maintenance, accessories and non-automotive items.
Store Personnel Training and Incentives
We provide on-the-job training as well as formal training programs, including an annual national sales meeting with related cascading meetings at our distribution centers, regional offices and stores; store meetings on specific sales and product topics; standardized computer-based training to support culture, safety, salesmanship, compliance and product and job knowledge; and several specialist, vendor and third-party programs to support learning and development in areas requiring technical expertise and specific job knowledge. All domestic AutoZoners are encouraged to complete our in-house product knowledge program and Parts Expert certification, which is developed in partnership with our key suppliers. Training is supplemented with frequent store visits by management. Additionally, store managers, commercial sales managers and managers at various levels across the organization receive financial incentives through performance-based bonuses.
Store Support Centers
All store support functions are centralized in our store support centers located in Memphis, Tennessee; Monterrey, Mexico; Chihuahua, Mexico and Sao Paulo, Brazil. We believe that this centralization enhances consistent execution of our merchandising and marketing strategies at the store level, while reducing expenses and cost of sales. In addition, we have offices in Shanghai, China and Haryana, India that provide sourcing, technology or other support functions.
All of our stores have Z-net, our proprietary electronic catalog that enables our AutoZoners to efficiently look up the parts that our customers need and provide complete job solutions, advice and information for customer vehicles. Z-net provides parts information based on year, make, model and engine type of a vehicle and also tracks inventory availability at the store, at other nearby stores and through special order. The Z-net display screens are placed on the hard parts counter or pods, where both the AutoZoner and customer can view the screen.
Our stores utilize our computerized proprietary Point-of-Sale System, which includes bar code scanning and point-of-sale data collection terminals. Our proprietary Store Management System provides administrative assistance, as well as enhanced merchandising information and improved inventory control. We believe the Point-of-Sale System also enhances customer service, while the Store Management System provides simplified warranty and product return procedures.
Our commercial sales program operates in a highly fragmented market, and we are a leading distributor of automotive parts and other products to local, regional and national repair garages, dealers, service stations, fleet owners and other accounts in the Americas. As part of our program, we offer credit and delivery to our customers, as well as online ordering through www.autozonepro.com or through the AutoZone Pro smartphone application. Through our hub and mega hub stores, we offer a greater range than our satellite stores of parts and products desired by professional technicians. We have dedicated sales teams focused on independent repair shops as well as national, regional and fleet commercial accounts.
The following table reflects our store development during the past five fiscal years:
We believe expansion opportunities exist in markets we do not currently serve, as well as in markets where we can achieve a larger presence. We undertake substantial research prior to entering new markets. The most important criteria for opening a new store are the projected future profitability and the ability to achieve our required investment hurdle rate. Key factors in selecting new site and market locations for stores include population, demographics, vehicle profile, customer buying trends, commercial businesses, number and strength of competitors’ stores and the cost of real estate. In reviewing the vehicle profile, we also consider the number of vehicles that are seven years old and older, or “our kind of vehicles”; these vehicles are generally no longer under the original manufacturers’ warranties and require more maintenance and repair than newer vehicles. We seek to open new stores in high visibility sites in high traffic locations within or contiguous to existing market areas and attempt to cluster development in markets in a relatively short period of time. We believe our stores are “destination stores,” generating their own traffic, therefore we situate most stores on major thoroughfares with easy access and good parking. In addition to continuing to lease or develop our own locations, we evaluate and may make strategic acquisitions.
Marketing and Merchandising Strategy
We are dedicated to providing customers with superior service and trustworthy advice as well as quality automotive parts and products at a great value in conveniently located, well-designed stores. Key elements of this strategy are:
Customer service is the most important element in our marketing and merchandising strategy, which is based upon consumer marketing research. We emphasize that our AutoZoners should always put customers first by providing prompt, courteous service and trustworthy advice. Our electronic parts catalog assists in the selection of parts as well as identifying any associated warranties offered by us or our vendors. In addition to our in-store offerings, we sell automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories and non-automotive parts through www.autozone.com, for pick-up in store or to be shipped directly to a customer’s home or business, with next day or same day delivery programs in most of our U.S. markets. Additionally, we offer a smartphone application that provides customers with store locations, driving directions, operating hours, product availability, the ability to purchase products and other information.
We also provide specialty tools through our suite of free services. Through our Loan-A-Tool program customers can borrow a specialty tool, such as a steering wheel puller, for which a do-it-yourself (“DIY”) customer or a repair shop would have little or no use other than for a single job. AutoZoners also provide free diagnostic and related services, including check engine and anti-lock braking system light readings through our AutoZone Fix Finder service, testing of starters, alternators and batteries, battery charging and the collection of used oil for recycling.
The following tables show some of the types of products we sell by major category of items:
Antifreeze & Windshield Washer Fluid
Vehicle Entertainment Systems
We believe customer satisfaction is often impacted by our ability to promptly provide specific automotive products as requested. Each store carries the same basic products, but we tailor our hard parts inventory to the makes and models of the vehicles in each store’s trade area, and our sales floor products are tailored to the local store’s demographics. Our hub stores (including mega hubs, which carry an even broader assortment) carry a larger assortment of products that are delivered to local satellite stores. We are continuously updating the products we offer to ensure our inventory matches the products our customers need or desire.
We want to be the value leader in our industry, by consistently providing quality merchandise at the right price, backed by a satisfactory warranty and outstanding customer service. For many of our products, we offer multiple value choices in a good/better/best assortment, with appropriate price and quality differences from the “good” products to the “better” and “best” products. A key differentiating component versus our competitors is our exclusive line of in-house brands, which includes Duralast and the family of Duralast brands, ProElite, ShopPro, SureBilt, TotalPro, TruGrade and Valucraft. We believe that our overall value compares favorably to that of our competitors.
Brand Marketing: Marketing and Loyalty
We believe that targeted advertising and promotions play important roles in succeeding in today’s environment. We are constantly working to understand our customers’ wants and needs so we can build long-lasting, loyal relationships. We utilize advertising, direct marketing, loyalty programs and promotions primarily to highlight our great value, the availability of high quality parts and develop a relationship with an expanding base of customers. Digital and broadcast media are our primary advertising methods of driving retail traffic, while we leverage a dedicated sales force and our ProVantage loyalty program to drive commercial sales.
Store Design, Visual Merchandising and Promotional Execution
We design and build stores for high visual impact. The typical store utilizes colorful exterior and interior signage, exposed beams and ductwork, finished floors and brightly lit interiors. Batteries, maintenance products, accessories and non-automotive items are attractively displayed for easy browsing by customers. In-store signage and special displays promote products on floor displays, end caps and shelves. We utilize in-store signage, creative product placement and promotions to help educate customers about products that they may need.
Purchasing and Supply Chain
Merchandise is selected and purchased for all stores through our store support centers located in Memphis, Tennessee; Monterrey, Mexico and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Additionally, we have offices in Shanghai, China, Haryana, India and Istanbul, Turkey to support our global sourcing efforts. In fiscal 2023, one class of similar products accounted for approximately 14 percent of our total revenues. No other class of similar products accounted for 10 percent or more of our total revenues, and no individual vendor provided more than 10 percent of our total purchases. We believe alternative sources of supply exist, at similar costs, for most types of product sold. Most of our merchandise flows through our distribution centers to our stores by our fleet of tractors and trailers or by third-party transportation firms. The distribution centers replenish our stores up to multiple times per week depending on store sales volumes.
We ended fiscal 2023 with 308 domestic and 39 international hub stores, which have a larger assortment of products as well as regular replenishment items that can be delivered to a store in its network within 24 hours. Hub stores are generally replenished from distribution centers multiple times per week. Hub stores have increased our ability to distribute products on a timely basis to many of our stores and to expand our product assortment.
As a subset of our domestic hub stores, we ended fiscal 2023 with 98 mega hubs, an increase of 20 since the end of fiscal 2022. Additionally, we have two mega hubs in Mexico. Mega hubs work in concert with other hubs to drive customer satisfaction through improved local parts availability and expanded product assortments. A mega hub carries inventory of 80,000 to 110,000 unique SKUs, approximately twice what a hub store carries. Mega hubs provide coverage to both surrounding stores and other hub stores multiple times a day or on an overnight basis. Currently, we have over 6,000 domestic stores with access to mega hub inventory. A majority of these stores currently receive mega hub service same day.
The sale of automotive parts, accessories and maintenance items is highly competitive due to numerous factors, including name recognition, product availability, customer service, store location and price. AutoZone competes in the aftermarket auto parts industry, which includes both the retail DIY and commercial do-it-for-me (“DIFM”) auto parts and products markets.
Our competitors include national, regional and local auto parts chains, independently owned parts stores, online automotive parts stores or marketplaces, wholesale distributors, jobbers, repair shops, car washes and auto dealers, in addition to discount and mass merchandise stores, hardware stores, supermarkets, drugstores, convenience stores, home stores and other retailers that sell aftermarket vehicle parts and supplies, chemicals, accessories and tools. AutoZone competes on the basis of customer service, including the knowledge and expertise of our AutoZoners and our ability to provide prompt delivery to commercial customers; merchandise quality, selection and availability; product warranty; store layouts, location and convenience; price; and the strength of our AutoZone brand name, trademarks and service marks.
We are subject to numerous federal, state, and local laws and regulations, many of which are complex, frequently changing and subject to varying interpretations. These laws and regulations relate to, among other things, the marketing and sale of products; proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials, particularly in connection with our used oil, oil filter and battery recycling programs; occupational health and safety; environmental matters; labor and employment; employee wages and benefits; information security and data privacy; real property; financial reporting and disclosure; antitrust and fair competition; international trade and transportation, logistics and delivery operations.
While compliance with the numerous laws and regulations applicable to our business, including environmental regulations, has not had a material adverse effect on capital expenditures, earnings or our competitive position to date, we can make no assurances as to the future costs of compliance. For more information, see the Risk Factors titled “Legal and Regulatory Risks” and “Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Risks” in “Part I. Item 1A, Risk Factors” in this report.
Trademarks and Patents
We regard our trademarks, service marks, patents, domain names, trade dress, trade secrets and other intellectual property as critical to our success and important components of our marketing and merchandising strategies. We have registered several trademarks and service marks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as well as in certain other countries, including without limitation: “AutoZone,” “Get in the Zone,” “Duralast,” “Econocraft,” “ProElite,” “ShopPro,” “SureBilt,” “TotalPro,” “TruGrade,” “Valucraft,” and “ALLDATA,” along with variations of these trademarks. Our trademark registrations have various expiration dates; however, assuming that the trademarks are properly maintained and in use, such registrations may typically be renewed indefinitely.
Our business is somewhat seasonal in nature, with the highest sales typically occurring in the spring and summer months of February through September, and the lowest sales in the months of December and January. During short periods of time, a store’s sales can be affected by weather conditions. Extremely hot or extremely cold weather may enhance sales by causing parts to fail; thereby increasing sales of seasonal products. Mild or rainy weather tends to soften sales, as parts failure rates are lower in mild weather and elective maintenance is deferred during periods of rainy weather. Over the longer term, we believe the effects of weather balance out, as we have stores throughout the Americas.
Our primary website is www.autozone.com. We make available, free of charge, at www.autozone.com, by clicking “Investor Relations” located at the bottom of the page, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, registration statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as soon as reasonably feasible after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our websites and the information contained therein or linked thereto are not intended to be incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Information about our Executive Officers
The following list describes our executive officers, which are elected by and serve at the discretion of the Board of Directors. The title of each executive officer includes the words “Customer Satisfaction” which reflects our commitment to customer service.
William C. Rhodes, III, 58—Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Customer Satisfaction
William C. Rhodes, III has served as AutoZone’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and a director since 2005 and was named Chairman in 2007. Prior to his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Rhodes served in various capacities within the Company since 1994. Prior to 1994, Mr. Rhodes was a manager with Ernst & Young LLP. As previously announced, Mr. Rhodes has notified the Board of his intention to relinquish his roles as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 2024, and the Board intends to appoint Mr. Rhodes to the role of Executive Chairman at such time.
Philip B. Daniele III, 54—CEO-Elect, Customer Satisfaction
Philip B. Daniele III was named CEO-Elect in June 2023. Previously Mr. Daniele had served as Executive Vice President – Merchandising, Marketing and Supply Chain from June 2021 to September 2023. The Board of Directors intends to appoint Mr. Daniele to the role of Chief Executive Officer and also appoint him to serve on the
Board in January 2024. Previously, Mr. Daniele served as Senior Vice President – Commercial from 2015 to 2021, Vice President – Commercial Support from 2013 to 2015 and Vice President – Merchandising from 2008 to 2013. Mr. Daniele was also a Divisional Vice President – Store Operations from 2005 to 2008. Prior to 2005, Mr. Daniele held several other key management positions with the Company.
Jamere Jackson, 54—Chief Financial Officer, Customer Satisfaction
Jamere Jackson was named Chief Financial Officer in January 2021 and, in that capacity, leads the Finance and Store Development teams. Mr. Jackson also held the title of Executive Vice President from January 2021 until his promotion in September 2023. Prior to joining AutoZone, Mr. Jackson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., a worldwide rental company, since 2018. From 2014 to 2018, Mr. Jackson served as Chief Financial Officer of Nielsen Holdings plc, an information, data and measurement company. Prior to 2014, Mr. Jackson held a variety of leadership roles at General Electric Company, including Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of a division of General Electric Oil and Gas. Mr. Jackson serves on the Board of Directors for Eli Lilly & Co.
Thomas B. Newbern, 61—Chief Operating Officer, Customer Satisfaction
Thomas B. Newbern was named Chief Operating Officer in September 2023. Since March 2023, Mr. Newbern served as Executive Vice President Operations, Sales and Technology. From 2015 to March 2023, Mr. Newbern served as Executive Vice President overseeing Store Operations, Commercial, International, Information Technology, Loss Prevention and ALLDATA in different capacities. From 2007 to 2015, Mr. Newbern served as Senior Vice President overseeing Store Operations and Commercial. From 1998 to 2007, Mr. Newbern was Divisional Vice President – Store Operations. Mr. Newbern began his career with AutoZone in 1985.
William R. Hackney, 58—Executive Vice President – Merchandising, Marketing and Supply Chain, Customer Satisfaction
William R. Hackney was named Executive Vice President – Merchandising, Marketing and Supply Chain in September 2023. Previously, Mr. Hackney served as Senior Vice President, Merchandising, since rejoining the Company in October 2022 after a brief retirement. Mr. Hackney’s career with AutoZone began in 1983, and he has held several key management roles within the Company, including Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Vice President, Store Operations Support and Vice President, Merchandising.
Jennifer M. Bedsole, 52—Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Customer Satisfaction
Jenna M. Bedsole was named Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary in April 2023. Prior to joining AutoZone, Ms. Bedsole was a partner with the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz P.C. since 2011, where she chaired the Labor and Employment practice group.
K. Michelle Borninkhof, 49—Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Customer Satisfaction
K. Michelle Borninkhof was named Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer in April 2021. Prior to that, Ms. Borninkhof was Chief Information Officer and Vice President for U.S. Technology at McDonald’s since 2018. Prior to joining McDonald’s, Ms. Borninkhof spent 11 years with Walmart Stores holding various leadership roles including Vice President – International Technology Delivery. Throughout her career, Ms. Borninkhof held various roles in store retail, distribution center operations and process improvement.
Preston B. Frazer, 47—Senior Vice President – Finance, Store Development and Strategy, Customer Satisfaction
Preston B. Frazer was named Senior Vice President Finance, Store Development and Strategy in March 2023. From 2021 to 2023 Mr. Frazer served as Executive Vice President – Store Operations, Commercial and Loss Prevention. From 2019 to 2021 Mr. Frazer served as Senior Vice President – Store Operations. Prior to that, Mr. Frazer was Vice President – Store Operations Support. Mr. Frazer began his career with AutoZone in 2006 in Finance and has held several key functional roles. Prior to joining AutoZone, Mr. Frazer was a senior manager with the accounting firm of KPMG, LLP.
Eric S. Gould, 54—Senior Vice President – Supply Chain, Customer Satisfaction
Eric S. Gould was named Senior Vice President, Supply Chain in February 2021. From 2017 to 2021, Mr. Gould served as Vice President, Supply Chain Replenishment. Prior to that, Mr. Gould held several key management
positions with the Company, including Vice President of Commercial, Commercial Support and Merchandising Pricing & Analysis.
Domingo J. Hurtado, 62—Senior Vice President – International, Customer Satisfaction
Domingo J. Hurtado Rodríguez was named Senior Vice President – International in September 2018. Prior to that, Mr. Hurtado was President – AutoZone de México. Mr. Hurtado has served in various capacities within the Company since 2001, which included leading the Company’s expansion in Mexico. Prior to 2001, Mr. Hurtado held different positions with RadioShack including Director General in Mexico and General Manager in Venezuela.
Dennis W. LeRiche, 55—Senior Vice President – Store Operations, Customer Satisfaction
Dennis W. LeRiche was named Senior Vice President – Store Operations in June 2021. From 2015 to 2021, Mr. LeRiche was a Divisional Vice President – Store Operations. Prior to 2015, Mr. LeRiche held several other key management positions with the Company.
Grant E. McGee, 61—Senior Vice President – Commercial, Customer Satisfaction
Grant E. McGee was named Senior Vice President – Commercial in June 2021 and has notified the Company of his intent to retire, effective around the end of the 2023 calendar year. From 2007 to 2021, Mr. McGee was a Divisional Vice President – Store Operations. From 2004 to 2007, Mr. McGee was Vice President – Commercial. Prior to 2004, Mr. McGee held several other key positions with the Company.
Charlie Pleas, III, 58— Senior Vice President – Accounting and Finance, Customer Satisfaction
Charlie Pleas, III, became Senior Vice President, Finance and Accounting in December 2021 and has notified the Company of his intent to retire, effective around the end of the 2023 calendar year. Mr. Pleas was named Senior Vice President and Controller during 2007. Prior to that, Mr. Pleas held several key management positions within the Company’s accounting department. Prior to joining AutoZone, Mr. Pleas was a Division Controller with Fleming Companies, Inc. where he served in various capacities during his tenure from 1988 to 1996. Prior to 1988, Mr. Pleas worked with Ernst & Young. Mr. Pleas is a member of the Board of Directors for Kirkland’s Inc.
Albert Saltiel, 59—Senior Vice President – Marketing and E-Commerce, Customer Satisfaction
Albert Saltiel was named Senior Vice President – Marketing and E-Commerce during October 2014 and has notified the Company of his intent to retire, effective around the end of the 2023 calendar year. Previously, Mr. Saltiel was Senior Vice President – Marketing since 2013. Prior to that, Mr. Saltiel was Chief Marketing Officer and a key member of the leadership team at Navistar International Corporation. Mr. Saltiel has also been with Sony Electronics as General Manager, Marketing, and Ford Motor Company where he held multiple marketing roles.
Richard C. Smith, 59—Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Customer Satisfaction
Richard C. Smith was named Senior Vice President – Human Resources in December 2015. Mr. Smith has been an AutoZoner since 1985, previously holding the position of Divisional Vice President – Store Operations since 1997. Prior thereto, Mr. Smith served in various key positions within the Company.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Our business is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties. The risks and uncertainties described below could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and stock price. The following information should be read in conjunction with the other information contained in this report and other filings that we make with the SEC. These risks and uncertainties are not the only ones we face. Our business could also be affected by additional factors that are presently unknown to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial to our business.
Strategic and Operational Risks
If demand for our products slows, then our business may be materially adversely affected.
Demand for the products we sell may be affected by a number of factors we cannot control, including:
|●||the number of older vehicles in service. Vehicles seven years old or older are generally no longer under the original vehicle manufacturers’ warranties and tend to need more maintenance and repair than newer vehicles.|
|●||the number of miles vehicles are driven. Higher vehicle mileage increases the need for maintenance and repair. Mileage levels may be affected by gas prices, ride sharing, weather conditions, and other factors.|
|●||rising fuel and energy prices. Increases in fuel and energy prices may cause our customers to defer purchases of certain of our products as they use a higher percentage of their income to pay for fuel and other energy costs and may drive their vehicles less, resulting in less wear and tear and lower demand for repairs and maintenance.|
|●||the economy. In periods of declining economic conditions, including as a result of inflation, consumers may reduce their discretionary spending by deferring vehicle maintenance or repair. Additionally, such conditions may affect our customers’ ability to obtain credit. During periods of expansionary economic conditions, more of our DIY customers may pay others to repair and maintain their vehicles instead of working on their own vehicles, or they may purchase new vehicles.|
|●||the weather. Milder weather conditions may lower the failure rates of automotive parts, while extremely hot or cold conditions may enhance demand for our products due to increased failure rates of our customers’ automotive parts. Extended periods of rain and winter precipitation may cause our customers to defer maintenance and repair on their vehicles. Additionally, climate changes can create more variability in the short-term or lead to other weather conditions that could impact our business.|
|●||technological advances. Advances in automotive technology, such as improved parts design, can result in cars needing maintenance less frequently and parts lasting longer.|
|●||prevalence of electric vehicles. Increased prevalence of electric vehicles, whether due to changes in consumer preferences or regulatory action incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles, can result in less frequent parts failures and reduced need for parts.|
|●||the quality of the vehicles manufactured by the original vehicle manufacturers and the length of the warranties or maintenance offered on new vehicles.|
|●||restrictions on access to telematics and diagnostic tools and repair information imposed by the original vehicle manufacturers or by governmental regulation. These restrictions may cause vehicle owners to rely on dealers to perform maintenance and repairs.|
These factors could result in a decline in the demand for our products, which could adversely affect our business and overall financial condition.
If we are unable to compete successfully against other businesses that sell the products that we sell, we could lose customers and our sales and profits may decline.
The sale of automotive parts, accessories and maintenance items is highly competitive. See “Item 1. Business” above for additional information regarding our competitive environment.
Although we believe we compete effectively, our competitors may have greater financial and marketing resources allowing them to sell merchandise at lower prices, larger stores with more merchandise, longer operating histories with deeper customer relationships, more frequent customer visits and more effective advertising. Online and multi-channel retailers often have lower operating costs and focus on delivery services, thereby offering customers faster, guaranteed delivery times and low-price or free shipping. In addition, because our business strategy is based on offering superior levels of customer service to complement the products we offer, our cost structure is higher than some of our competitors, which also puts pressure on our margins.
Consumers are embracing shopping online, including through mobile applications. With the increasing use of digital tools and social media, and our competitors’ increased focus on optimizing customers’ online experience, our customers are quickly able to compare prices, product assortment, product availability and feedback from other customers before purchasing products.
If we are unable to continue to manage in-stock inventory and costs, provide competitive delivery options, develop successful competitive strategies, including the maintenance of effective promotions, advertising and loyalty programs, develop and execute effective digital and omni-channel strategies or otherwise compete effectively, or if our competitors develop more effective strategies, we could lose customers and our sales and profits may decline.
We may not be able to sustain our historic rate of sales growth.
We have increased our store count in the past five fiscal years, growing from 6,202 stores at August 25, 2018, to 7,140 stores at August 26, 2023, a compounded annual growth rate of three percent. Additionally, we have increased annual revenues in the past five fiscal years from $11.2 billion in fiscal 2018 to $17.5 billion in fiscal 2023, with a compounded annual growth rate of nine percent. Annual revenue growth is driven by increases in same store sales, the opening of new stores and the development of new commercial programs. See “Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for further discussion of same store sales.
We open new stores only after evaluating customer buying trends and market demand/needs, all of which could be adversely affected by persistent unemployment, wage cuts, small business failures, microeconomic conditions unique to the automotive industry and our ability to expand into international markets. Same store sales are impacted both by customer demand levels and by the prices we are able to charge for our products, which can also be negatively impacted by economic pressures.
If we cannot profitably increase our market share in the commercial auto parts business, our sales growth may be limited.
Although we are a leading distributor of automotive parts and other products in the commercial market, we must effectively compete against national, regional and local auto parts chains, independently owned parts stores, wholesalers, jobbers, repair shops, auto dealers, online retailers and others in order to increase our commercial market share. Although we believe we compete effectively in the commercial market on the basis of customer service, merchandise quality, selection and availability, price, delivery times, product warranty, distribution locations and the strength of our AutoZone brand name, trademarks and service marks, some automotive aftermarket participants have been in business for substantially longer periods of time than we have, and as a result have developed long-term customer relationships and have large available inventories. If we are unable to profitably develop new commercial customers, our sales growth may be limited.
Our business depends upon hiring, training and retaining qualified employees, including members of management and other key personnel.
We believe much of our brand value lies in the quality of the approximately 119,000 AutoZoners employed in our stores, distribution centers, store support centers and ALLDATA. Our workforce costs represent our largest operating expense, and our ability to meet our labor needs while controlling labor costs is subject to numerous external factors, including market pressures with respect to prevailing wage rates and unemployment levels. Our business is also subject to employment laws and regulations, including those related to minimum wage, benefits and scheduling requirements. In addition, the implementation of potential regulatory changes relating to overtime exemptions and benefits for certain employees under federal and state laws could result in increased labor costs to our business and negatively impact our operating results.
We compete with other retail businesses for many of our associates in hourly positions, and these positions have historically had high turnover rates, which can lead to increased training and retention costs, particularly in a competitive labor market. We cannot be assured that we can continue to hire, train and retain qualified employees at current wage rates since we operate in a competitive labor market, and there are currently significant inflationary and other pressures on wages.
In the U.S., there has been an increase in workers exercising their right to form or join a union, both generally and in the retail industry. Further, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued decisions making it easier for employees to organize. Although none of our employees are currently covered by collective bargaining agreements, there can be no assurance that our employees will not elect to be represented by labor unions in the future. If a significant portion of our work force were to become unionized, our culture and operating model could be challenged by inserting a third party between our current terrific relationships between our leaders and hourly AutoZoners. Further, our labor costs could increase, and our business could be negatively affected by other requirements and expectations that could change our company culture, decrease our flexibility and disrupt our business. Further, our responses to any union organizing efforts could negatively impact how our brand is perceived by customers and AutoZoners and have adverse effects on our business and financial results.
If we are unable to hire, properly train and retain qualified AutoZoners, we could experience higher employment costs, reduced sales, losses of customers and diminution of our brand or company culture, which could adversely affect our earnings. If we do not maintain competitive wages or benefit packages, our customer service could suffer due to a declining quality of our workforce, or, alternatively, our earnings could decrease if we increase our wage rates. A violation or change in employment and labor laws (including changes in existing employment benefit programs such as health insurance) could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
Our future success depends on the skills and experience of our management and other key personnel. The unexpected loss of the services of any such persons could adversely affect our operations. There can be no assurance that our succession planning, retention or hiring efforts will be successful. Failure to attract and retain qualified personnel in key roles could adversely affect our operations.
Inability to acquire and provide quality merchandise at competitive prices could adversely affect our sales and results of operations.
We are dependent upon our domestic and international vendors continuing to supply us with quality merchandise at competitive prices and payment terms. If our merchandise offerings do not meet our customers’ expectations, or our customers have a negative perception of our merchandise regarding quality, innovation and safety, we could experience lost sales, increased costs and exposure to legal and reputational risk. In those circumstances, it may be difficult and costly for us to rebuild our reputation and regain the confidence of our customers.
All of our vendors must comply with applicable product safety laws, and we are dependent on them to ensure that the products we buy comply with all safety and quality standards. Events that give rise to actual, potential or perceived product safety concerns could expose us to government enforcement action or private litigation, result in
costly product recalls and other liabilities and lead to reputational harm and loss of customer confidence. To the extent our suppliers are subject to added government regulation of their product design and/or manufacturing processes, the cost of the merchandise we purchase may rise.
Furthermore, our vendors are impacted by global economic conditions which in turn impact our ability to source merchandise at competitive prices. For example, inflation, rising interest rates and disruption to the global supply chain have negatively impacted costs and inventory availability and may continue to have a negative impact on future results and profitability. Credit market and other macroeconomic conditions could also have a material adverse effect on the ability of our global and domestic suppliers to finance and operate their businesses.
If any of our significant vendors experience financial difficulties, business disruptions or are unable to deliver merchandise to us on a timely basis, or at all, we could have product shortages in our stores that could adversely affect customers’ perceptions of us and cause us to lose customers and sales.
Disruptions in our supply chain and other factors affecting the distribution of our merchandise could adversely impact our business.
A disruption to our supply chain or distribution network could adversely affect our ability to receive and distribute inventory in a timely manner, which could result in low inventory availability, lost sales, increased supply chain costs and loss of customer loyalty, among other things. Such disruptions may result from damage or destruction of our distribution centers, our ability to attract and retain qualified drivers, costs associated with maintaining or operating our fleet or macroeconomic conditions impacting the broader supply chain industry at large. For example, in recent years, ports, rails and domestic long-hauls in the U.S. and elsewhere have been negatively impacted by capacity constraints, congestion and delays, periodic labor disputes, security issues, weather-related events, and natural disasters, which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors beyond our control. Our business and competitive position may be negatively impacted if we are unable to successfully mitigate the impacts of such disruption to our supply chain or if we are unable to manage such disruptions more effectively than our competitors.
We are subject to risks associated with products sourced outside the U.S.
We directly imported approximately 16% of our purchases in fiscal 2023, but many of our domestic vendors directly import their products or components of their products. Changes to the price or flow of these goods for any reason, such as civil unrest or acts of war, currency fluctuations, disruptions in maritime lanes, port labor disputes, economic conditions and instability in the countries in which foreign suppliers are located, the financial instability of suppliers, suppliers’ failure to meet our standards, issues with labor practices of our suppliers or labor problems they may experience (such as strikes, stoppages or slowdowns, which could also increase labor costs during and following the disruption), the availability and cost of raw materials to suppliers, increased import duties or tariffs, merchandise quality or safety issues, shipping and transport availability and cost, increases in wage rates and taxes, transport security, foreign trade policies, trade sanctions, import limitations on certain types of goods or of goods containing certain materials from other countries, port labor agreements, inflation and other factors relating to the suppliers and the countries in which they are located or from which they import, often are beyond our control and could adversely affect our operations and profitability. These and other factors affecting our suppliers and our access to products could adversely affect our business and financial performance. As we or our domestic vendors increase the importation of merchandise or components from foreign vendors, these risks are likely to increase.
Our ability to grow depends in part on new store openings, existing store remodels and expansions and effective utilization of our existing supply chain and hub network.
Our continued growth and success will depend in part on our ability to open and operate new stores and expand and remodel existing stores to meet customers’ needs on a timely and profitable basis. Accomplishing store development and expansion goals will depend upon a number of factors, including the ability to identify and obtain suitable sites for new and expanded stores in a timely manner and at acceptable costs, the hiring and training of qualified personnel and the integration of new stores into existing operations. There can be no assurance we will be able to
achieve our store expansion goals, manage our growth effectively, successfully integrate the planned new stores into our operations or operate our new, remodeled and expanded stores profitably.
In addition, we extensively utilize our hub network, our supply chain and our logistics management techniques to efficiently stock our stores. We have made, and plan to continue to make, significant investments in our supply chain to improve product availability and product assortment, fulfill evolving consumer product demands and keep up with our long-term store expansion goals. If we fail to effectively utilize our existing hubs and/or supply chains, or if our investments in our supply chain initiatives, including directly sourcing some products from outside the U.S., do not provide the anticipated benefits, we could experience sub-optimal inventory levels in our stores or increases in our operating costs, which could adversely affect our sales volume and/or our margins.
Our success in international operations is dependent on our ability to manage the unique challenges presented by international markets.
The various risks we face in our U.S. operations generally also exist when conducting operations in and sourcing products and materials from outside of the U.S., in addition to the unique costs, risks and difficulties of managing international operations. Our expansion into international markets may be adversely affected by local laws and customs, U.S. laws applicable to foreign operations, and political and socio-economic conditions as well as our general ability to compete effectively and provide superior customer service regardless of distance, language and cultural differences.
Risks inherent in international operations also include potential adverse tax consequences, potential changes to trade policies and trade agreements, compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and local anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws, greater difficulty in obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights, challenges to identify and gain access to local suppliers, and possibly misjudging the response of consumers in foreign countries to our product assortment and marketing strategy.
In addition, our operations in international markets are conducted primarily in the local currency of those countries. Since our Consolidated Financial Statements are denominated in U.S. dollars, amounts of assets, liabilities, net sales, and other revenues and expenses denominated in local currencies must be translated into U.S. dollars using exchange rates for the current period. As a result, foreign currency exchange rates and fluctuations in those rates may adversely impact our financial performance.
Business interruptions may negatively impact our operating hours, operability of our computer and other systems, availability of merchandise and otherwise have a material negative effect on our sales and our business.
Business interruptions including war or acts of terrorism, political or civil unrest, unusual or severe weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, fires, earthquakes and floods, public health crises and other disasters or the threat of any of them, may negatively impact the hours and operations of our stores, distribution centers, store support centers or sourcing offices; may negatively impact our supply chain and distribution network; and may impede our ability to source quality merchandise domestically and outside of the U.S. on favorable terms.
In the event commercial transportation is curtailed or substantially delayed, we may have difficulty transporting merchandise to our distribution centers and stores resulting in lost sales and/or a potential loss of customer loyalty. Transportation issues could also cause us to cancel purchase orders if we are unable to receive merchandise in our distribution centers.
It is not possible to predict all events or circumstances which may negatively disrupt our business in a significant manner, and the near-term and long-term impacts of such disruptions on our business, demand for our products and our growth initiatives will vary significantly based on the facts and circumstances of each such disruption. Furthermore, such business interruptions could cause additional negative impacts of which we are not currently aware or magnify other risks associated with our business and operations.
Our failure to protect our brand and reputation could have an adverse effect on our relationships with our customers, employees, suppliers, vendors and other stakeholders, thereby negatively impacting sales and profitability.
We believe our continued strong sales growth is driven in significant part by our AutoZone and private label brand names and our positive reputation with customers, employees, suppliers, vendors and other stakeholders. The value in our brand names and reputation, and their continued effectiveness in driving our sales growth is dependent to a significant degree on our ability to maintain our reputation for safety, high product quality, friendliness, WOW! Customer service, trustworthy advice, integrity and business ethics. Negative incidents can erode trust and confidence quickly, and adverse publicity about us could damage our brand and reputation, undermine our customers’ confidence in us, reduce demand for our products and services, affect our ability to recruit and retain employees, attract regulatory scrutiny, and impact our relationships with suppliers and vendors. Further, our actual or perceived response or lack of response to social, political, environmental or other sensitive issues, whether or not based in fact, could damage our reputation and may result in reduced demand for our merchandise. Customers are also increasingly using social media to provide feedback and information about our Company, our products and services in a manner that is rapidly and broadly disseminated. Our brand and reputation could be negatively impacted if negative sentiment about the Company, whether or not based on fact, is shared and distributed in such a manner.
Failure to comply with ethical, social, product, labor, environmental and anti-corruption standards could also jeopardize our reputation and potentially lead to various adverse actions by consumer or environmental groups, employees or regulatory bodies. Damage to our reputation or loss of consumer confidence for any of these or other reasons could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition, as well as require additional resources to rebuild our reputation.
Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Risks
We rely heavily on information technology systems for our key business processes. Any damage to, failure of, or interruption in these systems could have a material adverse impact on our business and operating results.
We rely extensively on information technology systems, some of which are managed or provided by third-party service providers, to collect, analyze, process, store, manage, transmit and protect key business processes, transactions and data, such as sales data, customer data, employee data, demand forecasting, merchandise ordering, inventory replenishment, supply chain management, payment processing, order fulfillment and more. Delays in the maintenance, updates, upgrading, or patching of these systems, applications or processes could adversely impact their effectiveness or could expose us to security and other risks. Our systems and the third-party systems with which we interact are subject to damage, failure or interruption due to various reasons such as: power or other critical infrastructure outages, facility damage, physical theft, telecommunications failures, malware, security incidents, malicious cyber-attacks, including the use of malicious codes, worms, phishing, spyware, denial of service attacks and ransomware, natural disasters and catastrophic events, inadequate or ineffective redundancy measures; and design or usage errors by AutoZoners, contractors or third-party service providers. Although we seek to effectively maintain and safeguard our systems and our data and we seek to ensure our third-party service providers effectively maintain and safeguard their systems and our data, such efforts are not always successful. As a result, we or our service providers have experienced and are likely to again experience one or more errors, interruptions, delays or cessations of service impacting the integrity or availability of our information technology infrastructure. While such incidents have not been material to date, any future incident could significantly disrupt our operations and key business processes, result in the impairment or loss of critical data, be costly and resource-intensive to remedy; harm our reputation and relationship with customers, AutoZoners, vendors and other stakeholders; and have a material adverse impact on our business and operating results.
In addition, our information technology systems, infrastructure and personnel require substantial investments, such as replacing existing systems, some of which are older, legacy systems that are less flexible and efficient, with successor systems; making changes to existing systems, including the migration of applications to the cloud; maintaining or enhancing legacy systems that are not currently being replaced; or designing or cost-effectively
acquiring new systems with new functionality. These efforts can result in significant potential risks, including failure of the systems to operate as designed, potential loss or corruption of data, cost overruns, or implementation delays or errors, and may result in operational challenges, security control failures, reputational harm, and increased costs that could adversely affect our business operations and results of operations.
Failure to maintain the security of sensitive personal information or other confidential information in our possession could subject us to litigation or regulatory enforcement action, cause reputational harm and cause us to incur substantial costs or have a material adverse impact on our business and financial condition.
Our business, like that of most retailers, involves the collection, processing, storage and transmission of large amounts of personal information relating to our customers, suppliers and AutoZoners and confidential business information relating to AutoZone or other parties with which we do business. This information is handled by us as well as third-party service providers and vendors that provide us with various technology, systems, services and other resources that we use in connection with the handling of this information and in furtherance of our business objectives. Furthermore, we accept payments using a variety of methods, including credit, debit, electronic payments and gift cards, which present information security risks, and we may offer new payment options in the future presenting new risks of which we are currently unaware.
While addressing vulnerabilities is a priority for us, the methods used to obtain unauthorized access are constantly evolving, increasing in frequency and sophistication, and can be difficult to anticipate or detect for long periods of time. The security measures we or our third-party service providers and vendors have in place today in an effort to keep up with growing and evolving risks do not always prevent or mitigate the impact of a cyber incident or provide us with sufficient visibility to determine if a cyber incident has occurred, and there can be no assurance that such measures we introduce in the future will be sufficiently effective either. Failure to maintain the security of the personal and other confidential information to which we have access could lead to private litigation, regulatory enforcement actions and reputational harm, all of which would require extensive time and financial resources to resolve and could have a material adverse impact on our business and financial condition.
While we have not experienced a material breach of our information systems or data to date, unauthorized parties have in the past gained access and exfiltrated data, and will continue to attempt to do so as the result of a cyber-attack, employee misconduct, employee error, system vulnerabilities or compromises, fraud, hacking, phishing attempts, malware, ransomware, other malicious codes or other intentional or unintentional acts. Furthermore, hardware, software or other IT applications that we or a third party develop for our use have contained and may contain exploitable vulnerabilities, bugs or design defects or may involve other problems that could unexpectedly compromise information security.
The cost to remediate and respond to a cyber incident involving unauthorized use, access, damage or loss of systems, data or other information could be significant. To the extent any cyber incident involving our or one of our third-party service provider’s information systems results in the unauthorized access, loss, damage or misappropriation of information, we may be required by law to notify impacted individuals and face substantial liability due to claims arising from customers, financial institutions, regulatory authorities, payment card issuers and others. We maintain insurance coverage that may protect us from losses or claims in connection with certain incidents; however, our insurance coverage may not be sufficient to cover significant losses in any particular situation.
We are subject to a complex and evolving body of laws and regulations regarding data privacy and may face increased costs as a result of changes in, enforcement of, or the adoption of new laws and regulations. These costs may have a material adverse impact on our business and results of operations.
The regulatory environment related to information security, data collection, processing and use, and data privacy is becoming increasingly rigorous and complex. Multiple states in the U.S. have passed, and continue to pass, data protection laws designed to provide new rights to consumers and, in some cases, employees. The potential effects of the various laws regulating the collection, processing, transfer and use of personal or protected information are far-reaching and may require significant time, resources and costs to comply, may require changes to our existing
practices and processes that are not advantageous to our business, and otherwise limit our ability to use data to provide a more personalized customer experience or as otherwise desired. In addition, failure to comply with applicable requirements by us or our business partners or third-party service providers or vendors could subject us to fines, sanctions, governmental investigations, lawsuits or reputational damage.
Additionally, while we seek to comply with these various laws as they take effect, many of the concepts are novel and rulemaking is not finalized. Given the short amount of time between finalized rulemaking and the dates these laws become effective and enforceable, there can be no assurance that compliance efforts taken by us in good faith will be sufficient, and we may be the subject of an investigation or enforcement action instituted by a state agency or other regulatory body.
Indebtedness, Financial and Market Risks
We are self-insured for certain costs associated with our operations and an increase in our insurance claims and expenses may have a material negative impact on us.
We are self-insured up to certain limits for workers’ compensation, employee group medical, general liability, product liability, property and automobile. The types and amounts of insurance may vary from time to time based on our decisions with respect to risk retention and regulatory requirements. Our reserves are established using historical trends and, where appropriate, using a third-party actuary to estimate costs to settle reported claims and claims incurred but not yet reported. Estimated costs are subject to a variety of assumptions and other factors including the severity, duration and frequency of claims, legal costs associated with claims, healthcare trends and projected inflation of related factors. Material increases in the number of insurance claims, changes to healthcare costs, accident frequency and severity, legal expenses and other factors could result in unfavorable difference between actual self-insurance costs and our reserve estimates. As a result, our self-insurance costs could increase which may adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
A downgrade in our credit ratings or a general disruption in the credit markets could make it more difficult for us to access funds, refinance our debt, obtain new funding or issue debt securities.
Our short-term and long-term debt is rated investment grade by the major rating agencies. These investment-grade credit ratings have historically allowed us to take advantage of lower interest rates and other favorable terms on our short-term credit lines, in our senior debt offerings and in the commercial paper markets. To maintain our investment-grade ratings, we are required to meet certain financial performance ratios. A change by the rating agencies in these ratios, an increase in our debt, and/or a decline in our earnings could result in downgrades in our credit ratings. A downgrade in our credit ratings could limit our access to public debt markets, limit the institutions willing to provide credit facilities to us, result in more restrictive financial and other covenants in our public and private debt and would likely significantly increase our overall borrowing costs and adversely affect our earnings.
Moreover, significant deterioration in the financial condition of large financial institutions during the Great Recession resulted in a severe loss of liquidity and availability of credit in global credit markets and in more stringent borrowing terms. We can provide no assurance that such similar events that occurred during the Great Recession will not occur again in the foreseeable future. Conditions and events in the global credit markets could have a material adverse effect on our access to short-term and long-term debt and the terms and cost of that debt.
Legal and Regulatory Risks
Our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows may be adversely affected by the adoption of new laws, changes to existing laws, increased enforcement activity or other governmental actions.
We are subject to numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations, many of which are complex, frequently revised and subject to varying interpretations. These include laws governing employment and labor, wage and hour, environmental matters, proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials and waste, employee benefits, data privacy, cybersecurity, safety, the pricing and sale of goods, import and export compliance, transportation and logistics, consumer protection and advertising, among others. These laws may change over time and may differ
substantially across the areas where we operate. Although we have implemented policies and procedures to help ensure compliance with these laws, there can be no certainty that our employees and third parties with whom we do business will not take actions in violation of our policies or applicable laws. If we fail to comply with these laws, rules and regulations, or the manner in which they are interpreted or applied, we may be subject to governmental enforcement action or private litigation resulting in restrictions on our business, monetary penalties, reputational harm and increased costs of regulatory compliance. Any changes in regulations, the imposition of additional regulations, or the enactment of any new legislation, including tax legislation, could have an adverse impact, directly or indirectly, on our financial condition and results of operations. We may also be subject to investigations or audits by governmental authorities and regulatory agencies as a result of enforcing existing laws and regulations or changes in enforcement priorities, which can occur in the ordinary course of business or may result from increased scrutiny from a particular agency or toward a particular industry.
We may be adversely affected by legal, regulatory or market responses to global climate change.
Climate change resulting from increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could present risks to our operations. For example, we have significant operations in California, where serious drought has made water less available and more costly and has increased the risk of wildfires. Changes in climate patterns leading to extreme heat waves or unusual cold weather at some of our locations can lead to increased energy usage and costs, or otherwise adversely impact our facilities and operations and disrupt our supply chains and distribution systems. Growing concern over climate change has led policy makers in the U.S. to consider the enactment of legislative and regulatory proposals that would impose mandatory requirements for reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Such laws, if enacted, are likely to impact our business in a number of ways. For example, significant increases in fuel economy requirements, new federal or state restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide or new federal or state incentive programs that may be imposed on vehicles and automobile fuels could adversely affect demand for vehicles, annual miles driven or the products we sell. We may not be able to accurately predict, prepare for and respond to new kinds of technological innovations with respect to electric vehicles and other technologies that minimize emissions. Compliance with any new or more stringent laws or regulations, or stricter interpretations of existing laws, could require additional expenditures by us or our suppliers. Our inability to appropriately respond to such changes could adversely impact our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows
We may be unable to achieve the goals and aspirations set forth in our environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, particularly with respect to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or otherwise meet the expectations of our stakeholders with respect to ESG matters.
Increasing governmental and societal attention to ESG matters, including expanding mandatory and voluntary reporting, and disclosure topics such as climate change, sustainability, natural resources, waste reduction, energy, human capital, and risk oversight could expand the nature, scope, and complexity of matters that we are required to control, assess, and report. We strive to deliver shared value through our business and our diverse stakeholders expect us to make progress in certain ESG priority issue areas. A failure or perceived failure to meet these expectations could adversely affect public perception of our business, employee morale or customer or shareholder support.
We have announced certain aspirations and goals related to ESG matters, such as plans to reduce certain GHG emissions over time. Achievement of these aspirations, targets, plans and goals is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside of our control. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: our ability to successfully identify and implement relevant strategies on a timely and cost-effective basis; our ability to achieve the anticipated benefits and cost savings of such strategies and actions; and the availability and cost of existing and future technologies, such as alternative fuel vehicles, off-site renewable energy, and other materials and components. It is possible that we may be unsuccessful in the achievement of our ESG goals, on a timely basis or at all, or that the costs to achieve those goals become prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, our stakeholders may not be satisfied with our efforts or the speed at which we are progressing towards any such aspirations and goals. A delay, failure or perceived failure or delay to meet our goals and aspirations could adversely affect public perception of our business, or we may lose shareholder support. Certain challenges we face in the achievement of our ESG
objectives are also captured within our ESG reporting, which is not incorporated by reference into and does not form any part of this report.
Our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows may be affected by litigation.
We are involved in lawsuits, regulatory investigations, governmental and other legal proceedings arising out of the ordinary course of business. Such matters involve significant expense and divert management’s attention and resources from other matters. The damages sought against us in these proceedings may be material and may adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
Significant changes in macroeconomic and geo-political factors could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Macroeconomic conditions impact both our customers and our suppliers. Moreover, the U.S. government continues to operate under historically large deficits and debt burden. Continued distress in global credit markets, business failures, civil unrest, inflation, rising interest rates, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, significant geo-political conflicts, proposed or additional tariffs, continued volatility in energy prices, the impact of a public health crisis or pandemic (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), constraints on the global supply chain and other factors continue to affect the global economy. Moreover, rising energy prices could impact our merchandise distribution, commercial delivery, utility and product costs. It is unclear how such factors could impact our business in the short term. Over a longer period of time, these macroeconomic and geo-political conditions could adversely affect our sales growth, margins and overhead. These could adversely affect our financial condition and operations.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
The following table reflects the square footage and number of leased and owned properties for our stores as of August 26, 2023:
|(1)||Square footage excludes store support centers, regional offices, distribution centers and the areas that hold the local mega hub and hub expanded assortment.|
We have approximately 6.9 million square feet in distribution centers servicing our stores, of which approximately 2.0 million square feet is leased and the remainder is owned. We have 11 distribution centers located throughout the U.S., two in Mexico, and one in Brazil. Our primary store support center is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and consists of approximately 325,000 square feet. We also have three additional store support centers located in Monterrey, Mexico; Chihuahua, Mexico and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Our primary International Sourcing Office is located in Shanghai, China. The ALLDATA headquarters in Elk Grove, California is leased, and we also own or lease other properties which are not material individually or in the aggregate.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
We are involved in various other legal proceedings incidental to the conduct of our business, including, but not limited to, claims and allegations related to wage and hour violations, unlawful termination, employment practices, product liability, privacy and cybersecurity, environmental matters, intellectual property rights or regulatory compliance. We do not currently believe that, either individually or in the aggregate, these matters will result in liabilities material to our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Additionally, we are not involved in any environmental proceeding in which a governmental authority is a party, and such proceeding involves potential monetary sanctions that we reasonably believe will exceed an applied threshold of $1 million.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The principal market on which our common stock is traded is the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “AZO.” On October 16, 2023, there were 1,703 stockholders of record, which does not include the number of beneficial owners whose shares were represented by security position listings.
We currently do not pay a dividend on our common stock. Any future payment of dividends would be dependent upon our financial condition, capital requirements, earnings and cash flow.
During 1998, the Company announced a program permitting the Company to repurchase a portion of its outstanding shares not to exceed a dollar maximum established by the Company’s Board of Directors. On June 14, 2023, the Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of an additional $2.0 billion of the Company’s common stock, bringing the total value of authorized share repurchases to $35.7 billion.
Shares of common stock repurchased by the Company during the quarter ended August 26, 2023 were as follows:
Total Number of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid per Share (1)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
Maximum Dollar Value that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
May 7, 2023 to June 3, 2023
June 4, 2023 to July 1, 2023
July 2, 2023 to July 29, 2023
July 30, 2023 to August 26, 2023
|(1)||Average price per share includes excise tax assessed at one percent of the fair market value of net stock repurchases.|
The Company also repurchased, at market value, an additional 4,886 and 7,611 shares in fiscal years 2022 and 2021, respectively, from employees electing to sell their stock under the Company’s Eighth Amended and Restated Employee Stock Purchase Plan (as amended from time to time, the “Employee Plan”), qualified under Section 423 of the Internal Revenue Code, under which all eligible employees may purchase AutoZone’s common stock at 85% of the lower of the market price of the common stock on the first day or last day of each calendar quarter through payroll deductions. Maximum permitted annual purchases are $15,000 per employee or 10 percent of compensation, whichever is less. Under the Employee Plan, 5,183, 6,238 and 8,479 shares were sold to employees in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. At August 26, 2023, 122,341 shares of common stock were reserved for future issuance under the Employee Plan.
Once executives have reached the maximum purchases under the Employee Plan, the Sixth Amended and Restated Executive Stock Purchase Plan (the “Executive Plan”) permits all eligible executives to purchase AutoZone’s common stock up to 25 percent of his or her annual salary and bonus. Purchases by executives under the Executive Plan were 689, 709 and 997 shares in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. At August 26, 2023, 232,966 shares of common stock were reserved for future issuance under the Executive Plan.
Stock Performance Graph
The graph below presents changes in the value of AutoZone’s stock as compared to Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index (“S&P 500”) and to Standard & Poor’s Retail Index (“S&P Retail Index”) for the five-year period beginning August 25, 2018 and ending August 26, 2023.
Item 6. Reserved
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
We are the leading retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories in the Americas. We began operations in 1979 and at August 26, 2023, operated 6,300 stores in the U.S., 740 stores in Mexico and 100 stores in Brazil. Each store carries an extensive product line for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and light duty trucks, including new and remanufactured automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories and non-automotive products. At August 26, 2023, in 5,682 of our domestic stores as well as the vast majority of our stores in Mexico and Brazil, we had a commercial sales program that provided commercial credit and prompt delivery of parts and other products to local, regional and national repair garages, dealers, service stations, fleet owners and other accounts. We also sell automotive hard parts, maintenance items, accessories and non-automotive products through www.autozone.com, and our commercial customers can make purchases through www.autozonepro.com. Additionally, we sell the ALLDATA brand of automotive diagnostic, repair, collision and shop management software through www.alldata.com. We also provide product information on our Duralast branded products through www.duralastparts.com. We do not derive revenue from automotive repair or installation services.
For fiscal 2023, we achieved record net income of $2.5 billion, a 4.1% increase over the prior year, and sales growth of $1.2 billion, a 7.4% increase over the prior year. Our retail sales and commercial sales in our domestic and international markets grew this past year as we made progress on our initiatives aimed at improving our ability to say “Yes” to our customers more frequently.
Our business is impacted by various factors within the economy that affect both our consumer and our industry, including but not limited to inflation, fuel costs, wage rates, supply chain disruptions, hiring and other economic conditions. Given the nature of these macroeconomic factors, we cannot predict whether or for how long certain trends will continue, nor can we predict to what degree these trends will impact us in the future.
One macroeconomic factor affecting our customers and our industry is gas prices. We believe fluctuations in gas prices impact our customers’ level of disposable income. With approximately 11 billion gallons of unleaded gas consumption each month across the U.S., each $1 increase at the pump reduces approximately $11 billion of additional spending capacity to consumers each month. Given the unpredictability of gas prices, we cannot predict whether gas prices will increase or decrease, nor can we predict how any future changes in gas prices will impact our sales in future periods.
We have also experienced continued pressure on average hourly wages in the U.S. during fiscal 2023. Some of this is attributed to regulatory changes in certain states and municipalities, while the larger portion is being driven by general market pressures and some specific actions taken recently by other retailers. The regulatory changes are expected to continue, as evidenced by the areas that have passed legislation to increase employees’ wages substantially over the next few years.
During fiscal 2023, failure and maintenance related categories represented the largest portion of our sales mix, at approximately 85% of total sales categories continuing to comprise our largest set of categories. While we have not experienced any fundamental shifts in our category sales mix as compared to previous years, in our domestic stores we see a slight decrease in mix of sales of the discretionary category and a slight increase in the maintenance category compared to last year.
The two statistics we believe have the closest correlation to our market growth over the long-term are miles driven and the number of seven year old or older vehicles on the road.
We believe as the number of miles driven increases, consumers’ vehicles are more likely to need service and maintenance, resulting in an increase in the need for automotive hard parts and maintenance items. While over the long-term we have seen a close correlation between our net sales and the number of miles driven, we have also seen certain time frames of minimal correlation in sales performance and miles driven. During the periods of minimal
correlation between net sales and miles driven, we believe net sales have been positively impacted by other factors, including macroeconomic factors and the number of seven year old or older vehicles on the road. Since the beginning of the fiscal year and through July 2023 miles driven in the U.S. increased by 1.3% compared to the same period in the prior year based on the latest information available from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Seven Year Old or Older Vehicles
As the number of seven year old or older vehicles on the road increases, we expect an increase in demand for the products we sell. We expect the aging vehicle population to continue to increase as consumers keep their cars longer in an effort to save money.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, vehicles are driven an average of approximately 13,500 miles each year. In seven years, the average miles driven equates to approximately 94,500 miles. Our experience is that at this point in a vehicle’s life, most vehicles are not covered by warranties and increased maintenance and repairs are needed to keep the vehicle operating.
According to the latest data provided by the Auto Care Association, as of January 1, 2023, the average age of light vehicles on the road was 12.5 years and these vehicles account for more than 40% of U.S. vehicles. The average age of light vehicles has exceeded 12 years since 2012.
Results of Operations
The following table highlights selected financial information over the past 5 years:
Fiscal Year Ended August
(in thousands, except per share data, same store sales and selected operating data)
Income Statement Data
Cost of sales, including warehouse and delivery expenses
Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses
Interest expense, net
Income before income taxes
Income tax expense(4)
Diluted earnings per share(4)
Weighted average shares for diluted earnings per share(4)
Same Store Sales
Increase in domestic comparable store net sales(5)
Increase in international comparable store net sales(5)
Increase in international comparable store net sales (constant currency)(5)
Increase in total company comparable store net sales(5)
Increase in total company comparable store net sales (constant currency)(5)
Balance Sheet Data
Operating lease right-of-use assets(6)
Working capital (deficit)(7)
Finance lease liabilities, less current portion(6)
Operating lease liabilities, less current portion(6)
Selected Operating Data
Number of stores at beginning of year
Net new stores
Number of stores at end of year
AutoZone domestic commercial programs
Total Company Store Data
Inventory per store (in thousands)
Total AutoZone store square footage (in thousands)
Average square footage per AutoZone store
Increase in AutoZone store square footage
Average net sales per AutoZone store (in thousands)
Net sales per AutoZone store average square foot
Total employees at end of year (in thousands)
Accounts payable to inventory ratio
After-tax return on invested capital(9)
Adjusted debt to EBITDAR(10)
Net cash provided by operating activities (in thousands)(4)
Cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt (in thousands)(11)
Share repurchases (in thousands)(7)
Number of shares repurchased (in thousands)(7)
|(7)||Inclusive of excise tax of $23.7 million for the year ended August 26, 2023. The excise tax is assessed at one percent of the fair market value of net stock repurchases after December 31, 2022. During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, the Company temporarily suspended share repurchases under the share repurchase program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which was restarted beginning in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.|
|(8)||Inventory turnover is calculated as cost of sales divided by the average merchandise inventory balance over the trailing 5 quarters.|
|(9)||After-tax return on invested capital is defined as after-tax operating profit (excluding rent charges) divided by invested capital (which includes a factor to capitalize leases). For fiscal 2019, after-tax operating profit was adjusted for the impact of the average revaluation of deferred tax liabilities, net of repatriation tax. See Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.|
|(10)||Adjusted debt to EBITDAR is defined as the sum of total debt, finance lease obligations and annual rents times six; divided by net income plus interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and share-based compensation expense. See Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
|(11)||Cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt is defined as the change in cash and cash equivalents less the change in debt plus treasury stock purchases. See Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.|
Fiscal 2023 Compared with Fiscal 2022
For the fiscal year ended August 26, 2023, we reported net sales of $17.5 billion compared with $16.3 billion for the year ended August 27, 2022, a 7.4% increase from fiscal 2022. This growth was driven primarily by a domestic same store sales increase of 3.4% and net sales of $327.8 million from new domestic and international stores. Domestic commercial sales increased $368.0 million, or 8.7%, over domestic commercial sales for fiscal 2022. Same store sales, or sales for our domestic and international stores open at least one year, are as follows:
Fiscal Year Ended August
Constant Currency (1)
Constant Currency (1)
|(1)||Constant currency same store sales exclude impacts from fluctuations of foreign exchange rates by converting both the current year and prior year international results at the prior year foreign currency exchange rate.|
At August 26, 2023, we operated 6,300 domestic stores, 740 in Mexico and 100 in Brazil, compared with 6,168 domestic stores, 703 in Mexico and 72 in Brazil at August 27, 2022. We reported a total auto parts segment (domestic, Mexico and Brazil) sales increase of 7.4% for fiscal 2023.
Gross profit for fiscal 2023 was $9.1 billion, or 52.0% of net sales, a 17 basis point decrease compared with $8.5 billion, or 52.1% of net sales for fiscal 2022. The deleverage in gross margin was impacted by a non-cash LIFO charge of $44.0 million in fiscal 2023 versus a $15.0 million charge in fiscal 2022.
Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses for fiscal 2023 increased to $5.6 billion, or 32.1% of net sales, from $5.2 billion, or 32.0% of net sales for fiscal 2022.
Interest expense, net for fiscal 2023 was $306.4 million compared with $191.6 million during fiscal 2022. Average borrowings for fiscal 2023 were $7.0 billion, compared with $5.8 billion for fiscal 2022. Weighted average borrowing rates were 3.78% and 3.29% for fiscal 2023 and 2022, respectively.
Our effective income tax rate was 20.2% and 21.1% of pre-tax income for fiscal 2023 and fiscal 2022, respectively. The benefit from stock options exercised in fiscal 2023 was $92.2 million compared to $63.2 million in fiscal 2022 (see “Note D – Income Taxes” in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
Net income for fiscal 2023 increased by 4.1% to $2.5 billion, and diluted earnings per share increased 12.9% to $132.36 from $117.19 in fiscal 2022. The impact on the fiscal 2023 diluted earnings per share from stock repurchases was an increase of $1.15.
Fiscal 2022 Compared with Fiscal 2021
A discussion of changes in our results of operations from fiscal 2022 to fiscal 2021 has been omitted from this Annual Report on Form 10-K, but may be found in “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended August 27, 2022, filed with the SEC on October 24, 2022, which is available free of charge on the SECs website at www.sec.gov and at www.autozone.com, by clicking “Investor Relations” located at the bottom of the page.
Each of the first three quarters of our fiscal year consists of 12 weeks, and the fourth quarter consisted of 16 weeks in 2023, 2022 and 2021. Because the fourth quarter contains seasonally high sales volume and consists of 16 or 17 weeks, compared with 12 weeks for each of the first three quarters, our fourth quarter represents a disproportionate share of our annual net sales and net income. The fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023 represented 32.6% of annual sales and 34.2% of net income; the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022 represented 32.9% of annual sales and 33.3%
of net income; and the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021 represented 33.6% of annual sales and 36.2% of net income.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
The primary source of our liquidity is our cash flows realized through the sale of automotive parts, products and accessories. Continued progress on our initiatives improved our operating performance for the fiscal year. We believe that our cash generated from operating activities, available cash reserves and available credit, supplemented with our long-term borrowings will provide ample liquidity to fund our operations while allowing us to make strategic investments to support growth initiatives and return excess cash to shareholders in the form of share repurchases. As of August 26, 2023, we held $277.1 million of cash and cash equivalents, as well as $2.2 billion in undrawn capacity on our revolving credit facility, without giving effect to commercial paper borrowings. We believe our sources of liquidity will continue to be adequate to fund our operations and investments to grow our business, repay our debt as it becomes due and fund our share repurchases over the short-term and long-term. In addition, we believe we have the ability to obtain alternative sources of financing, if necessary.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $2.9 billion in 2023, $3.2 billion in 2022 and $3.5 billion in 2021. Cash flows from operations are below last year primarily due to unfavorable changes in accounts payable and accrued expenses.
Our net cash flows used in investing activities were $876.2 million, $648.1 million and $601.8 million in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. The increase in net cash used in investing activities in fiscal 2023 was primarily due to an increase in capital expenditures. We invested $796.7 million, $672.4 million and $621.8 million in capital assets in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. The increase in capital expenditures from fiscal 2022 to fiscal 2023 was primarily driven by our growth initiatives, including new stores, hub and mega hub expansion initiatives and supply chain projects. We had net new store openings of 197, 176 and 218 for fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We invest a portion of our assets held by our wholly owned insurance captive in marketable debt securities. We purchased marketable debt securities of $66.9 million, $56.0 million and $63.7 million in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We had proceeds from the sale of marketable debt securities of $58.4 million, $53.9 million and $95.4 million in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Net cash used in financing activities was $2.1 billion in fiscal 2023 and $3.5 billion in fiscal 2022 and fiscal 2021. The net cash used in financing activities reflected purchases of treasury stock, which totaled $3.7 billion, $4.4 billion and $3.4 billion for fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. The treasury stock purchases in fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021 were primarily funded by cash flows from operations. During the year ended August 26, 2023, we repaid our $300 million 2.875% Senior Notes due January 2023 and our $500 million 3.125% Senior Notes due July 2023 and issued $1.8 billion of new debt compared to $750 million in 2022 and none in 2021. In fiscal years 2023 and 2022 the proceeds from the issuance of debt were used for general corporate purposes.
The Company had net proceeds from the issuance of commercial paper and short term borrowing of $606.2 million and $603.4 million during fiscal 2023 and fiscal 2022, respectively. We did not have any commercial paper or short-term borrowing activity during fiscal 2021.
During fiscal 2024, we expect to increase the investment in our business as compared to fiscal 2023. Our investments are expected to be directed primarily to our supply chain initiatives, which includes expanded hub and mega hubs, as well as distribution center expansions and new stores. The amount of investments in our new stores is impacted by different factors, including whether the building and land are purchased (requiring higher investment) or leased (generally lower investment) and whether such buildings are located in the U.S., Mexico or Brazil, or located in urban or rural areas.
During fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021 our capital expenditures increased by approximately 18%, 8% and 36%, respectively. Fiscal 2021 capital expenditures increased due to delays in capital spending for the third and fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to building and land costs, our new stores require working capital, predominantly for inventories. Historically, we have negotiated extended payment terms from suppliers, reducing the working capital required and resulting in a high accounts payable to inventory ratio. We plan to continue leveraging our inventory purchases; however, our ability to do so may be limited by our vendors’ capacity to factor their receivables from us. Certain vendors participate in arrangements with financial institutions whereby they factor their AutoZone receivables, allowing them to receive early payment from the financial institution on our invoices at a discounted rate. The terms of these agreements are between the vendor and the financial institution. Upon request from the vendor, we confirm to the vendor’s financial institution the balances owed to the vendor, the due date and agree to waive any right of offset to the confirmed balances. A downgrade in our credit or changes in the financial markets may limit the financial institutions’ willingness to participate in these arrangements, which may result in the vendor wanting to renegotiate payment terms. A reduction in payment terms would increase the working capital required to fund future inventory investments. Extended payment terms from our vendors have allowed us to continue our high accounts payable to inventory ratio. We had an accounts payable to inventory ratio of 124.9% at August 26, 2023 and 129.5% at August 27, 2022.
Depending on the timing and magnitude of our future investments (either in the form of leased or purchased properties or acquisitions), we anticipate that we will rely primarily on internally generated funds and available borrowing capacity to support a majority of our capital expenditures, working capital requirements and stock repurchases. The balance may be funded through new borrowings. We anticipate we will be able to obtain such financing in view of our credit ratings and favorable experiences in the debt markets in the past.
Our cash balances are held in various locations around the world. As of August 26, 2023, and August 27, 2022, cash and cash equivalents of $108.5 million and $86.8 million, respectively, were held outside of the U.S. and were generally utilized to support the liquidity needs in our foreign operations.
For the fiscal year ended August 26, 2023, our adjusted after-tax return on invested capital (“ROIC”), which is a non-GAAP measure, was 55.4% as compared to 52.9% for the prior year. Adjusted ROIC is calculated as after-tax operating profit (excluding rent charges) divided by invested capital (which includes a factor to capitalize operating leases). We use adjusted ROIC to evaluate whether we are effectively using our capital resources and believe it is an important indicator of our overall operating performance. Refer to the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section for further details of our calculation.
On November 15, 2021, we amended and restated our existing revolving credit facility (as amended from time to time, the “Revolving Credit Agreement”) pursuant to which our borrowing capacity under the Revolving Credit Agreement was increased from $2.0 billion to $2.25 billion, and the maximum borrowing under the Revolving Credit Agreement may, at our option, subject to lenders approval, be increased from $2.25 billion to $3.25 billion. On November 15, 2022, we amended the Revolving Credit Agreement, extending the termination date by one year. As amended, the Revolving Credit Agreement will terminate, and all amounts borrowed will be due and payable, on November 15, 2027, but we may make one additional request to extend the termination date for an additional period of one year. Revolving borrowings under the Revolving Credit Agreement may be base rate loans, Term Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) loans, or a combination of both, at our election. The Revolving Credit Agreement includes (i) a $75 million sublimit for swingline loans, (ii) a $50 million individual issuer letter of credit sublimit and (iii) a $250 million aggregate sublimit for all letters of credit.
Under our Revolving Credit Agreement, covenants include restrictions on liens, a maximum debt to earnings ratio, a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio and a change of control provision that may require acceleration of the repayment obligations under certain circumstances.
As of August 26, 2023, we had no outstanding borrowings and $1.8 million of outstanding letters of credit under the Revolving Credit Agreement.
The Revolving Credit Agreement requires that our consolidated interest coverage ratio as of the last day of each quarter shall be no less than 2.5:1. This ratio is defined as the ratio of (i) consolidated earnings before interest, taxes and rents to (ii) consolidated interest expense plus consolidated rents. Our consolidated interest coverage ratio as of August 26, 2023 was 6.3:1.
We also maintain a letter of credit facility that allows us to request the participating bank to issue letters of credit on our behalf up to an aggregate amount of $25 million. The letter of credit facility is in addition to the letters of credit that may be issued under the Revolving Credit Agreement and had an expiration in June 2022. On May 16, 2022, we amended and restated the letter of credit facility to, among other things, extend the facility through June 2025. As of August 26, 2023, we had $25 million in letters of credit outstanding under the letter of credit facility.
In addition to the outstanding letters of credit issued under the committed facility discussed above, we had $107.2 million in letters of credit outstanding as of August 26, 2023. These letters of credit have various maturity dates and were issued on an uncommitted basis.
As of August 26, 2023, the $1.2 billion of commercial paper borrowings and the $300 million 3.125% Senior Notes due April 2024 were classified as long-term in the Consolidated Balance Sheets as we have the current ability and intent to refinance them on a long-term basis through available capacity in our revolving credit facility. As of August 26, 2023, we had $2.2 billion of availability under our Revolving Credit Agreement, without giving effect to commercial paper borrowings, which would allow us to replace these short-term obligations with a long-term financing facility.
On July 17, 2023, we repaid the $500 million 3.125% Senior Notes due July 2023.
On January 17, 2023, we repaid the $300 million 2.875% Senior Notes due January 2023.
On January 18, 2022, we repaid the $500 million 3.700% Senior Notes due April 2022, which were callable at par in January 2022.
On March 15, 2021, we repaid the $250 million 2.500% Senior Notes due April 2021, which were callable at par in March 2021.
On July 21, 2023, we issued $450 million in 5.050% Senior Notes due July 2026 and $300 million in 5.200% Senior Notes due August 2033 under our automatic shelf registration statement on Form S-3, filed with the SEC on July 19, 2022 (File No. 333-266209) (the “2022 Shelf Registration Statement”). The 2022 Shelf Registration Statement allows us to sell an indeterminate amount in debt securities to fund general corporate purposes, including repaying, redeeming or repurchasing outstanding debt and for working capital, capital expenditures, new store or distribution center openings, stock repurchases and acquisitions. Proceeds from the debt issuance were used for general corporate purposes.
On January 27, 2023 we issued $450 million in 4.500% Senior Notes due February 2028 and $550 million in 4.750% Senior Notes due February 2033 under the 2022 Shelf Registration Statement. Proceeds from the debt issuance were used to repay a portion of the Company’s outstanding commercial paper borrowings and for other general corporate purposes.
On August 1, 2022, we issued $750 million in 4.750% Senior Notes due August 2032 under the 2022 Shelf Registration Statement. Proceeds from the debt issuance were used for general corporate purposes.
The Senior Notes contain a provision that repayment may be accelerated if we experience a change in control (as defined in the agreements). Our borrowings under our Senior Notes contain minimal covenants, primarily restrictions on liens, sale and leaseback transactions and consolidations, mergers and the sale of assets. All of the repayment obligations under our borrowing arrangements may be accelerated and come due prior to the applicable scheduled payment date if covenants are breached or an event of default occurs. Interest is paid on a semi-annual basis.
As of August 26, 2023, we were in compliance with all covenants and expect to remain in compliance with all covenants under our borrowing arrangements.
For the fiscal year ended August 26, 2023, our adjusted debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and share-based compensation expense (“EBITDAR”) ratio was 2.3:1 as compared to 2.1:1 as of the comparable prior year end. We calculate adjusted debt as the sum of total debt, finance lease liabilities and rent times six; and we calculate adjusted EBITDAR by adding interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and share-based compensation expense to net income. We target our debt levels to a specified ratio of adjusted debt to EBITDAR in order to maintain our investment grade credit ratings and believe this is important information for the management of our debt levels.
Management expects the ratio of adjusted debt to EBITDAR to return to pre-pandemic levels in the future, increasing debt levels. Once the target ratio is achieved, to the extent adjusted EBITDAR increases, we expect our debt levels to increase; conversely, if adjusted EBITDAR decreases, we would expect our debt levels to decrease. Refer to the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section for further details of our calculation.
During 1998, we announced a program permitting us to repurchase a portion of our outstanding shares not to exceed a dollar maximum established by our Board of Directors (the “Board”). The Board voted to increase the repurchase authorization by $1.5 billion on October 5, 2021, $1.5 billion on December 15, 2021, $2.0 billion on March 22, 2022, $2.5 billion on October 4, 2022 and $2.0 billion on June 14, 2023, bringing the total authorization to $35.7 billion. From January 1998 to August 26, 2023, we have repurchased a total of 154.0 million shares at an aggregate cost of $33.8 billion. We repurchased 1.5 million, 2.2 million and 2.6 million shares of common stock at an aggregate cost of $3.7 billion (inclusive of excise tax of $23.7 million), $4.4 billion and $3.4 billion during fiscal 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. The excise tax is assessed at one percent of the fair market value of net stock repurchases after December 31, 2022. Considering cumulative repurchases as of August 26, 2023 we had $1.8 billion remaining under the Board’s authorization to repurchase our common stock. We will continue to evaluate current and expected business conditions and adjust the level of share repurchases under our share repurchase program in a manner that is consistent with our capital allocation strategy or as we otherwise deem appropriate.
Cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt was $2.2 billion, $2.6 billion and $3.0 billion for the fiscal year ended August 26, 2023, August 27, 2022 and August 28, 2021, respectively. Cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt is calculated as the net increase or decrease in cash and cash equivalents less net increases or decreases in debt (excluding deferred financing costs) plus share repurchases. We use cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt to calculate the cash flows remaining and available. We believe this is important information regarding our allocation of available capital where we prioritize investments in the business and utilize the remaining funds to repurchase shares, while maintaining debt levels that support our investment grade credit ratings. Refer to the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section for further details of our calculation.
Subsequent to August 26, 2023 and through October 16, 2023, we have repurchased 200,303 shares of common stock at an aggregate cost of $512.4 million. Considering the cumulative repurchases through October 16, 2023, we have $1.3 billion remaining under the Board’s authorization to repurchase its common stock.
The following table shows our significant contractual obligations as of August 26, 2023:
Payment Due by Period
|(1)||Debt balances represent principal maturities, excluding interest, discounts, and debt issuance costs.|
|(2)||Represents obligations for interest payments on long-term debt.|
|(3)||Operating and finance lease obligations include related interest in accordance with ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842).|
|(4)||Self-insurance reserves reflect estimates based on actuarial calculations and are presented net of insurance receivables. Although these obligations do not have scheduled maturities, the timing of future payments are predictable based upon historical patterns. Accordingly, we reflect the net present value of these obligations in our Consolidated Balance Sheets.|
|(5)||Represents commitments to make additional capital contributions to certain tax credit equity investments upon achievement of project milestones.|
Our tax liability for uncertain tax positions, including interest and penalties, was $51.0 million at August 26, 2023. Approximately $11.2 million is classified as current liabilities and $39.8 million is classified as long-term liabilities. We did not reflect these obligations in the table above as we are unable to make an estimate of the timing of payments of the long-term liabilities due to uncertainties in the timing and amounts of the settlement of these tax positions.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
The following table reflects outstanding letters of credit and surety bonds as of August 26, 2023:
Standby letters of credit
A substantial portion of the outstanding standby letters of credit (which are primarily renewed on an annual basis) and surety bonds are used to cover reimbursement obligations to our workers’ compensation carriers.
There are no additional contingent liabilities associated with these instruments as the underlying liabilities are already reflected in our Consolidated Balance Sheets. The standby letters of credit and surety bond arrangements expire within one year but have automatic renewal clauses.
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures
“Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” includes certain financial measures not derived in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). These non-GAAP financial measures provide additional information for determining our optimum capital structure and are used to assist management in evaluating performance and in making appropriate business decisions to maximize stockholders’ value.
Non-GAAP financial measures should not be used as a substitute for GAAP financial measures, or considered in isolation, for the purpose of analyzing our operating performance, financial position or cash flows. However, we have presented the non-GAAP financial measures, as we believe they provide additional information that is useful to investors as it indicates more clearly our comparative year-to-year operating results. Furthermore, our management and Compensation Committee of the Board use the above-mentioned non-GAAP financial measures to analyze and compare our underlying operating results and use select measurements to determine payments of performance-based compensation. We have included a reconciliation of this information to the most comparable GAAP measures in the following reconciliation tables.
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measure: Cash Flow Before Share Repurchases and Changes in Debt
The following table reconciles net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents to cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt, which is presented in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”:
Fiscal Year Ended August
Net cash provided by/(used in):
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash
Net (decrease)/increase in cash and cash equivalents
Less: increase/(decrease) in debt, excluding deferred financing costs
Plus: Share repurchases
Cash flow before share repurchases and changes in debt
|(1)||During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, the Company temporarily suspended share repurchases under the share repurchase program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measure: Adjusted After-tax ROIC
The following table calculates the percentage of ROIC. ROIC is calculated as after-tax operating profit (excluding rent) divided by invested capital (which includes a factor to capitalize operating leases). The ROIC percentages are presented in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”:
Fiscal Year Ended August
(in thousands, except percentage)
Deferred tax liabilities, net of repatriation tax(4)
Adjusted after-tax return
Average stockholders’ deficit(5)
Add: Rent x 6(2)(6)
Average finance lease liabilities(5)
Adjusted after-tax ROIC
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measure: Adjusted Debt to EBITDAR
The following table calculates the ratio of adjusted debt to EBITDAR. Adjusted debt to EBITDAR is calculated as the sum of total debt, financing lease liabilities and annual rents times six; divided by net income plus interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and share-based compensation expense. The adjusted debt to EBITDAR ratios are presented in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”:
Fiscal Year Ended August
(in thousands, except ratio)
Add: Interest expense