U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 33 mins

Moody's boosts outlook for AutoZone to "Positive"

NEW YORK (AP) -- Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday boosted its outlook for AutoZone Inc. to "positive" from "stable," citing the auto parts retailer's stable finances and improving profitability.

The raised outlook means that Moody's could chose to raise the Memphis, Tenn.-based company's credit ratings if its finances continue to improve. Moody's affirmed its "Baa2" senior unsecured and "Prime-2" commercial paper ratings for the company. The ratings are on the lower end of investment grade.

The credit rating agency said the outlook change reflects AutoZone's growing profitability and the strength of its private Duralast brand of parts and accessories.

In addition, the average age of the typical vehicle on U.S. roads is increasing and Americans are driving more miles, both of which should prompt increased spending at AutoZone stores, Moody's said.

AutoZone shares rose $1.83 to $378.17 in afternoon trading.