This morning, AutoZone reported fourth-quarter net income of $217.2 million, or $3.23 per share, a 1.7% gain from year-ago numbers of $213.5 million ($2.92 per share). Revenue stepped 3% higher during the reporting period to $2 billion, but same-store sales edged 0.2% lower. Analysts were expecting per-share results of $3.25 on $2 billion in sales.

Net inventory dropped to $34,000 per share in the latest quarter from $38,000 last year. Gross profit as a percentage of sales rose to 50.1%, from 49.7% in the fourth quarter 1 year ago. Fifty-three new U.S. stores were opened during the 3-month reporting period, and 13 stores were opened in Mexico.

In an accompanying statement, the company's Chairman/CEO Bill Rhodes noted that the auto-parts retailer experienced less sales traction from our ongoing initiatives than we had expected. Rhodes had a cheerful outlook for the future, however, noting that AZO is well positioned to generate increased sales growth.

Yesterday, Al Schwartz took a look at AutoZone ahead of its earnings report. Al noted the disconcerting technical indicators a recent bearish cross of the stock's 10-week and 20-week moving averages and peak call open interest way overhead at the 135 strike. With minutes until the opening bell, AZO is showing a pre-market loss of more than 3%.