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What Makes AutoZone (AZO) a Strong Momentum Stock: Buy Now?

Zacks Equity Research
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Momentum investing is all about the idea of following a stock's recent trend, which can be in either direction. In the 'long' context, investors will essentially be "buying high, but hoping to sell even higher." And for investors following this methodology, taking advantage of trends in a stock's price is key; once a stock establishes a course, it is more than likely to continue moving in that direction. The goal is that once a stock heads down a fixed path, it will lead to timely and profitable trades.

While many investors like to look for momentum in stocks, this can be very tough to define. There is a lot of debate surrounding which metrics are the best to focus on and which are poor quality indicators of future performance. The Zacks Momentum Style Score, part of the Zacks Style Scores, helps address this issue for us.

Below, we take a look at AutoZone (AZO), which currently has a Momentum Style Score of B. We also discuss some of the main drivers of the Momentum Style Score, like price change and earnings estimate revisions.

It's also important to note that Style Scores work as a complement to the Zacks Rank, our stock rating system that has an impressive track record of outperformance. AutoZone currently has a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy). Our research shows that stocks rated Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and #2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B outperform the market over the following one-month period.

You can see the current list of Zacks #1 Rank Stocks here >>>

Set to Beat the Market?

In order to see if AZO is a promising momentum pick, let's examine some Momentum Style elements to see if this auto parts retailer holds up.

A good momentum benchmark for a stock is to look at its short-term price activity, as this can reflect both current interest and if buyers or sellers currently have the upper hand. It is also useful to compare a security to its industry, as this can help investors pinpoint the top companies in a particular area.

For AZO, shares are up 1.12% over the past week while the Zacks Automotive - Retail and Wholesale - Parts industry is up 1.21% over the same time period. Shares are looking quite well from a longer time frame too, as the monthly price change of 7.18% compares favorably with the industry's 7.42% performance as well.

While any stock can see a spike in price, it takes a real winner to consistently outperform the market. Shares of AutoZone have increased 25.98% over the past quarter, and have gained 72.77% in the last year. On the other hand, the S&P 500 has only moved 10.57% and 9.22%, respectively.

Investors should also take note of AZO's average 20-day trading volume. Volume is a useful item in many ways, and the 20-day average establishes a good price-to-volume baseline; a rising stock with above average volume is generally a bullish sign, whereas a declining stock on above average volume is typically bearish. Right now, AZO is averaging 263,939 shares for the last 20 days.

Earnings Outlook

The Zacks Momentum Style Score also takes into account trends in estimate revisions, in addition to price changes. Please note that estimate revision trends remain at the core of Zacks Rank as well. A nice path here can help show promise, and we have recently been seeing that with AZO.

Over the past two months, 11 earnings estimates moved higher compared to none lower for the full year. These revisions helped boost AZO's consensus estimate, increasing from $59.65 to $61.74 in the past 60 days. Looking at the next fiscal year, 10 estimates have moved upwards while there have been no downward revisions in the same time period.

Bottom Line

Given these factors, it shouldn't be surprising that AZO is a #2 (Buy) stock and boasts a Momentum Score of B. If you're looking for a fresh pick that's set to soar in the near-term, make sure to keep AutoZone on your short list.


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