Zacks.Com Announces That David Fried Highlights the Following Stocks: AutoZone and Progressive Corp.

David Fried, editor of the Buyback Premium Portfolio newsletter, provides a buy recommendation on an auto parts chain and an auto insurance company. Read about AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) and Progressive Corp. (NYSE:PGR). Click here for the full story exclusively on Zacks.com: http://at.zacks.com/?id=84

Highlights from the August 11 Featured Expert column by David Fried include:

New Premium Portfolio Recommendation

On July 29, 2005, David Fried and his team issued a buy recommendation on three stocks, including the following:

AutoZone (NYSE:AZO): The nation`s leading retailer for do-it-yourself auto and light truck repair has more than 3,500 stores in the U.S. and Mexico. A member of the Fortune 500, AutoZone is the 861st largest company in the world, on the Forbes Global 2000 list. Financial columnists have noted that AutoZone is one of the most committed buyers of its own stock. For the fiscal third quarter, AZO’s sales were soft, but EPS was strong. In May AutoZone reported sales of $1.338 billion for its fiscal third quarter, down 1.6% from fiscal third quarter 2004. Same store sales, or sales for domestic stores open at least one year, were down 5% for the quarter. Operating margin increased 91 basis points from last year to 19.4%, while operating profit increased 3.2% over the prior year. Net income for the quarter increased 3.1% over the same period last year to $147.8 million, and diluted earnings per share, reflecting net income and the benefit of the company`s share repurchase program, increased 10.5% to $1.86 per share from $1.68 per share reported in the year-ago quarter. For the quarter, gross profit, as a percentage of sales, was 50.3% (versus 49.7% last year) while operating expenses, as a percentage of sales, were 30.9% (versus 31.2% last year).

Progressive Corp. (NYSE:PGR) is an insurance holding company headquartered in Mayfield Village, Ohio, that ranks third in the nation for auto insurance based on premiums written. Progressive insures more than 13 million people. The products and services of the Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies are marketed directly to consumers by phone and online through the Progressive Direct brand. The Drive Group of Progressive Insurance Companies offers insurance through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies that market their products and services through the Drive Insurance from Progressive brand. Second-quarter earnings confirmed that the auto insurer is continuing to grow at a healthy clip. Net income was $394.3 million, or $1.97 a share, up from $386.3 million, or $1.76 a share, in last year`s second quarter. Policies in force from Progressive`s direct-sales and agent-based auto-insurance divisions climbed 9% to 6.8 million in June, the company said.

Receive more of David Fried’s updates on the stocks above and find out about another buy recommendation by clicking: http://at.zacks.com/?id=85

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