A water merchant gets rich during a dry spell. But if the dry spell lasts long enough, even he dies of thirst. AutoZone has capitalized on the recession's increased demand for repairs, but if it lasts, all businesses including Autozone will suffer. If on the other hand, the economy goes back up, Autozone will see less demand for its services because people will buy new cars. Finally, Lampert unloaded his shares, and he is generally smarter than I am.
Although it is justified that AZO is a growth company, the company has grown tremendously within the last few years. As it begins to stable off, AZO should reward investors with dividends if it can no longer put the funds to good use. This clearly has not been the case yet. Should the directors choose not to give dividends, this may ultimately lead management to splurge on extra cash held, which would in turn destroy shareholder value.