AutoZone, Inc., has reported sales of $1.225 billion U.S. for its third quarter, an increase of 11% from fiscal 2001, excluding the sales of the TruckPro subsidiary which was sold in December. Same store sales, or sales for domestic auto parts stores open at least one year, increased 9.5% during the quarter, including 9% for retail sales and 18% for commercial sales. AutoZone stores in Mexico continue to report high same store sales increases. Net income for the quarter increased 61% to $102 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 71% to $0.96 from $0.56 reported in the year-ago quarter. All figures in U.S. dollars. For the third quarter, cash flow before share repurchases was $244 million, up 33% from the prior year. For the fiscal year-to-date period (36 weeks), sales were $3.48 billion, an increase of 10% from the prior year, with a same store sales increase of 10%, including a 9% increase for retail sales and 17% for commercial sales. Year-to-date net income increased 68% to $250 million, while diluted earnings per share for the period increased 76% to $2.29 from $1.30. Return on invested capital for the trailing twelve months increased to 17.2%. “We are very pleased with our continuing strong performance through the third quarter, even as we begin to anniversary our initiatives which have already generated such strong improvements in prior quarters,” said Steve Odland, Chairman, president and chief executive officer. “In addition to these marketing, merchandising, and operating initiatives which continued to drive strong same store sales by reminding customers to maintain their vehicles, positive external factors like more older cars on the road, more miles being driven, the aging SUV and light truck population, and $60 billion of annual unperformed maintenance bode well for growth in the DIY market. We also are focused on providing the tools and training that our AutoZoners need to provide the highest level of customer service. AutoZone continues to experience very encouraging results from our increased efforts toward commercial customers and we remain optimistic about the opportunities in Mexico. “We continue to focus on decreasing costs, through relentless expense discipline. Our cash flow and financial returns continue to improve. The strong, growing cash flow provided by our business, when combined with increased hurdle rates for new investments, should continue to drive improved return on invested capital and shareholder value.” During the quarter, AutoZone opened 19 new, replaced 2 and closed 4 stores in the U.S. and opened 4 new stores in Mexico. Year-to-date, AutoZone has opened 72 new, replaced 12 and closed 39 auto parts stores in the U.S., while opening 6 new stores in Mexico.