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Sector Snap: Auto parts retailers tumble

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of auto parts retailers tumbled Wednesday, a day after O'Reilly Automotive Inc. cut its sales predictions for the current quarter.

O'Reilly said late Tuesday that it now expects its second-quarter revenue at stores open at least a year to rise between 2 percent and 2.5 percent, down from its previous forecast for an increase of 3 percent to 5 percent.

The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it measures growth at ongoing locations, excluding stores that opened or closed during the year.

The Springfield, Mo.-based company also said it that it now expects its second-quarter profit to come in at the low end of its previously predicted range of $1.13 to $1.17 per share.

Analysts, on average, expect a profit of $1.16 per share for the quarter, according to FactSet.

O'Reilly said its sales got off to a slow start in April, as warmer-than-normal spring weather in many parts of the U.S. prompted some customers to shop earlier in the year than they otherwise would have. That effectively pulled some of the company's second-quarter sales forward into the first quarter.

While sales improved in May, they were lower-than-expected in June, the company said.

Baird analyst Craig Kennison said that in addition to pulling forward sales, the early spring also hurt auto parts retailers, because it meant less wear and tear on vehicles and less consumer spending on parts to fix them.

The analyst said O'Reilly's warning is along the same lines as the one given by rival Advance Auto Parts Inc. That company said in May that its sales also slowed meaningfully in April and that it had gotten off to a slow start in the second quarter.

In heavy afternoon trading, O'Reilly shares dropped $13.95, or 14.5 percent, to $82.49, after slumping as low as $75.61 earlier in the day. Over the past 52 weeks, its shares have traded between $56.25 and $107.13.

Meanwhile, shares of AutoZone Inc. gave up $19.08, or 5.1 percent, to $357.41; Advance Auto fell $1.07, or nearly 2 percent, to $64.68 and Genuine Parts Co. slid $2.05, or 3.4 percent, to $58.10.

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