Friday, October 29, 2010

Distributors post strong sales and earnings growth

Reflecting improved conditions in the industrial sector, Barnes Group, Lawson Products, United Stationers and Avent post strong quarterly results

Several distributors posted strong sales and earnings this week, as the industrial economy continues its climb out of the recession.

Barnes Group
Connecticut-based manufacturer and distributor Barnes Group Inc. posted a 39% earnings gain on top of an 11% sales increase, driven by growth in its North American distribution businesses. Barnes Group’s third-quarter sales hit $290 million, while net income grew nearly 40% to $15 million and earnings per share grew 35% to 27 cents a share.

Barnes’ Logistics and Manufacturing Group, which includes its distribution business, saw a 6% quarterly sales increase, to $139 million. The group’s operating profit fell slightly to $11 million during the quarter.

Lawson Products
MRO and OEM products distributor Lawson Products reported third-quarter sales of $89 million, a 6% increase over the same period a year ago. Adjusted operating income (excluding severance and a favorable legal settlement) rose nearly 60% to $6.5 million.

During the third quarter, Lawson finalized a pending legal claim against a competitor in which Lawson was awarded $4.1 million, of which $3.5 million was realized in the quarter.

Lawson said it continued to make progress on key goals during the quarter, including completing the blueprint phase of its new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which it expects to roll out in the second quarter of 2011. The distributor also said it improved sales productivity by transitioning its independent agent district managers to employee district sales managers and by selling Assembly Component Systems, its supply chain management solutions business, which resulted in a $19 million selling price the company will invest in its MRO business.

United Stationers
Business products distributor United Stationers posted a 2% sales gain to $1.3 billion in the third quarter, reflecting strong performance in its industrial supplies category, where sales rose nearly 30%. United Stationers sells office products, industrial supplies, technology products and janitorial/breakroom supplies.

United Stationers’ sales for the first nine months of the year rose 3.4% to $3.65 billion, led by a double-digit increase in industrial supplies and growth in technology and office products. Those increases were partially offset by lower furniture sales and a slight decrease in janitorial/breakroom category sales, the company said.

Avnet Inc.
Electronics distributor Avnet, Inc. posted a record $6.2 billion in sales for its fiscal 2011, ended Oct. 2, 2010. That marks a 42% increase over the previous year. The distributor’s adjusted income rose 108% to $222.5 million while adjusted earnings per share rose 111% over the prior year to 93 cents a share.

Avnet’s chairman and CEO Roy Vallee said the company jump-started its new fiscal year with three acquisitions that will add roughly $4 billion to the distributor’s revenue stream. Avnet completed its acquisition of Bell Micro, Tallard Technologies, and Unidux in July.

“In addition to the financial benefits, the integration of Bell Micro, Tallard Technologies and Unidux are enhancing our competitive position in key technologies, expanding our presence in higher growth geographies and increasing our global scale and scope advantages,” Vallee said in a statement announcing the results.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Airgas sales increase 10 percent in Q2

Reiterates Air Products’ offer to buy Airgas is “grossly inadequate”

Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG), the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related MRO supplies yesterday reported second quarter sales of $1.06 billion, a nearly 10 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The company reported a sequential increase of 1% compared to the first quarter. Acquisitions contributed 1% sales growth over the prior year. Profit increased 22 percent.

Based on the strong earnings report, Airgas again reiterated its contention that the offer from Air Products and Chemicals to buy Airgas was “grossly inadequate.”
In a letter to Air Products after the earnings report, Airgas wrote: “Each of our ten directors is of the view that the current Air Products offer of $65.50 per share is grossly inadequate. In light of Airgas’ strong performance, outstanding prospects, and unique industry position, as well as the enormous financial benefits to Air Products of an acquisition of Airgas, the current offer price is not close to the right price for the sale of the Company.

“Our Board is also unanimous in its views regarding negotiations between Air Products and Airgas. To that end, we read with great interest your and your chief financial officer’s trial testimony, including the testimony that Air Products is attempting to acquire Airgas for the lowest possible price. In contrast, our obligation is to seek the greatest possible price in the event of a sale of the Company. Each member of our Board believes that the value of Airgas in any sale is meaningfully in excess of $70 per share. We are writing to let you know that our Board is unanimous in its willingness to authorize negotiations with Air Products if Air Products provides us with sufficient reason to believe that those negotiations will lead to a transaction at a price that is consistent with that valuation.”

In releasing the numbers for the quarter, Airgas offered an upbeat tone. “Our business continued to strengthen in our second quarter, reflecting broad-based improvement in most of our geographies and customer segments, and with the greatest strength in manufacturing,” said Airgas Chief Executive Officer Peter McCausland.

“Hardgoods same-store sales accelerated noticeably this quarter as compared to gas and rent same-store sales, which is a trend consistent with an economic recovery. While revenues have not yet recovered to pre-recession levels, we are experiencing favorable leverage on sales growth and are achieving near record results for earnings and margins.”

AIT sales rose 21% in Q1

Applied also raises its guidance for remainder of fiscal 2011

Applied Industrial Technologies has reported an increase in net sales of 20.5 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 that ended Sept. 30. It reported sales of $527,501,000 from $437,743,000 in the comparable period a year ago. Net income for the quarter increased 85.5% to $20,755,000 or $0.48 per share compared to $11,187,000 or $0.26 per share last year.

“We are pleased with the strength shown by our first quarter sales and operating results,”said David L. Pugh, Applied’s Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. “Our sales showed steady growth over prior year comparables throughout the quarter on the basis of increased demand from the majority of our industrial segments. We see this level of demand continuing for the foreseeable future.

“Our attention to detail in the areas of cost control and asset management allowed us toleverage this sales growth into strong operating income and cash flow. Inventories expanded about $10 million net of acquisitions and price increases, as we increased our stock to safeguard against increased lead times in our supply chain.

“We believe that we will continue to see moderate growth in our daily sales run rates
from the current levels throughout the remaining three quarters of our fiscal year. Based on the strength of our first quarter performance, we are raising our earnings guidance for the full fiscal year 2011 and now expect to achieve earnings of $1.80 to $2.05 per share compared to our previous forecast of $1.70 to $1.95. We are maintaining our full-year sales guidance of $2.05 to $2.25 billion.”

Durable goods orders increased 3.3% in September

Inventories rose for the ninth month in a row

Durable-goods orders increased by 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted $199.16 billion, the Commerce Department said today. This as the biggest rise since January and was primarily due to an increase in aircraft and aircraft parts.

New orders for aircraft and parts doubled to $12.85 billion in September.

Overall transportation equipment orders rose 15.7% to $54.77 billion in September.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods fell 0.4%. And inventories rose for the ninth month in a row, gaining 0.5%.

Durable goods orders are products such as appliances that are designed to last more than three years.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Builders FirstSource posts $20.5 million loss

Sales slip 4.5% for Dallas-based building materials supplier

Sales for Dallas-based Builders FirstSource slipped 4.5% to $180.4 million in the third quarter, the company reported today. Builders FirstSource also reported a net loss of $20.5 million, or 22 cents per share.

Builders FirstSource is a supplier and manufacturer of building materials for the residential construction market, which continues to experience difficult conditions nationwide. U.S. housing starts fell 14% in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2009, and were down by the same amount in the South region, which encompasses Builders FirstSource’s entire geographic footprint.

"Despite the decline in building activity, our sales of $180.4 million were down just 4.5 percent from sales of $188.9 million in the third quarter of 2009,” Builders FirstSource CEO Floyd Sherman said in a statement announcing the results.

Sherman also noted that while pricing in commodity markets has stabilized, Builders FirstSource continues to experience the same competitive pricing pressures that have existed for the last few years. He said current-quarter gross margins declined 1.2 percentage points compared to the third quarter of 2009, although margins improved 1.4 percentage points compared to the second quarter of 2010. He said the company remains focused on cost-containment initiatives, pointing to the temporary idling of four manufacturing facilities in the third quarter—two in Maryland and two in Florida—and two distribution centers—both in South Carolina—in order to reduce operating expenses and excess capacity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MSC’s fourth-quarter sales rise 30%

Distributor credits solid results to market share gains as a result of ongoing business investment during the downturn

MSC Industrial Direct today reported sales and earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter and full year ended August 28, 2010.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 30% for the New York-based distributor of metalworking and MRO supplies, reaching $461 million compared to $354 million in the prior-year period. Net income for the quarter was $44 million, up 70% compared to the fourth quarter of 2009. The company’s quarterly earnings rose 70% to 70 cents a share, compared with 41 cents a share in the same period a year ago. MSC noted that the 2010 fourth quarter had one less sales day than the prior-year period.

For the full year, sales rose to $1.69 billion compared to $1.49 billion in 2009, while net income rose to $150 million compared to $125 million last year, and earnings per share were $2.37 compared with $1.99 in 2009.

MSC executives cited ongoing investments in the company throughout the economic downturn as a key to the strong quarterly and full-year results.

“Throughout this period of economic uncertainty, MSC’s strategy has been to invest in the business to capitalize on the opportunities in the marketplace to gain share and grow profitably. I am pleased to say that our results reflect the benefits of these efforts,” president and CEO David Sandler said in a statement announcing the results. “While our recent performance is encouraging, we believe it is only the beginning of a long-term growth story. Looking ahead, we expect to leverage our advantages in the marketplace to continue to generate strong results for all of our stakeholders.”

MSC also announced a new management succession plan. Sandler will continue to serve as president and CEO for the next two to three years before transitioning to vice chairman of MSC’s board of directors, where he will serve until at least 2016.

Erik Gershwind, MSC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, will succeed succeed Sandler as CEO.

MSC said there are no changes to management roles or responsibilities and no other executive leadership changes at this time.

Eaton’s sales rise 18% in Q3

Company raises guidance for year

Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation (NYSE:ETN) yesterday announced net income per share of $1.57 for the third quarter of 2010, an increase of 38 percent from net income per share of $1.14 in the third quarter of 2009. Sales in the quarter were $3.6 billion, 18 percent above the same period in 2009. Net income was $268 million compared to $193 million in 2009, an increase of 39 percent.

In a press release, Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer, said, “Our third quarter results significantly exceeded our guidance. The results reflect the outstanding achievements of our employees around the world, who have capitalized on the continued rebound in our end markets while realizing the benefits of the substantial changes in our cost structure implemented over the past two years.

“Our 18 percent sales increase in the quarter was due entirely to an increase in core sales, with a 1 percent increase from acquisitions offset by a 1 percent decline from exchange rates,” said Cutler. “Our end markets increased 14 percent in the quarter.

Accordingly, for the full year, we are raising our earnings guidance by 10 percent. We now anticipate that net income per share will be between $5.30 and $5.40, and operating earnings per share will be between $5.45 and $5.55.”

Third quarter sales for the Electrical Americas segment were $967 million, up 15 percent compared to 2009. Operating profits in the third quarter were $141 million, down 1 percent from results in 2009.

“End markets for our Electrical Americas segment grew 3 percent during the third quarter,” said Cutler. “We saw good growth during the quarter in our early- and mid-cycle markets, particularly in power quality and industrial markets. That growth was largely offset by the weakness in our non-residential markets.

Sales for the Electrical Rest of World segment were $707 million, an increase of 9 percent compared to the third quarter of 2009. The sales increase was comprised of a 12 percent increase in core sales and a 1 percent increase from acquisitions offset by a 4 percent decline due to foreign currency.

In the Hydraulics segment, third quarter sales were $583 million, up 40 percent from the third quarter of 2009. Hydraulics markets in the third quarter grew 44 percent compared to the same period in 2009, with U.S. markets up 58 percent and non-U.S. markets up 34 percent. Operating profits in the third quarter were $76 million. In the third quarter of 2009, operating profits were $20 million, excluding acquisition integration charges of $2 million.

“Global hydraulics markets continued their sharp rebound during the third quarter,” said Cutler. “Our bookings, adjusted for foreign exchange, increased 43 percent in the third quarter. We expect hydraulics markets will show further growth in the fourth quarter, although the rate of growth is likely to be somewhat lower than in the third quarter. For all of 2010, we now expect our markets to grow 31 percent versus our expectation at the end of the second quarter of 26 percent.”

Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with 2009 sales of $11.9 billion. Eaton is a global provider of electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety.

Eaton has approximately 70,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ITW sales rise 12.2% in 3Q

Organic revenues and operating margins higher than expected

Illinois Tool Works Inc. (NYSE: ITW)) yesterday reported 2010 third quarter diluted income per share from continuing operations of $0.83, a 38 percent increase versus the year-ago period. The growth in earnings was largely driven by strong organic revenue performance and ongoing contributions from restructuring activities.

The Company’s third quarter revenues of $4.018 billion were 12.2 percent higher than the year-earlier period. Organic or base revenues grew 11.2 percent in the quarter, with North American base revenues increasing 11.5 percent and international base revenues growing 10.8 percent. While all of the reporting segments produced positive organic revenue growth in the third quarter, the strongest organic revenue increases were produced by the Power Systems and Electronics, Industrial Packaging and Transportation segments. Acquisitions added 3.6 percent to third quarter revenues. Currency translation negatively impacted revenues by 2.4 percent.

“ITW’s third quarter financial results represented strong operating performance amid end markets that largely performed to our expectations,” said David B. Speer, chairman and chief executive officer. “We were pleased, however, that both our organic revenues and operating margins came in at higher than expected levels. While acquired revenues in the third quarter were relatively modest, we remain optimistic that acquisition activity will continue to improve as the year progresses and we move into 2011. Given our existing cash position, we repurchased 8.1 million shares for $350 million in the quarter. We consider our share repurchase program an ongoing part of our capital allocation process and we remain committed to being opportunistic as to its use.'

Total worldwide revenues for the Power Systems and Electronics segment increased 23.7percent in the third quarter versus the year-ago period.

Organic revenues grew 23.8 percent in the quarter due to strong end market demand associated with the welding and electronics businesses. Worldwide welding organic revenues increased 14.8 percent in the third quarter, with North American welding organic revenues growing 19.4 percent. The North American businesses continued to be helped by strong demand for welding products from heavy equipment OEM’s as well as other manufacturing customers. International welding organic revenues increased 5.3 percent in the quarter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Graybar named to InformationWeek 500

Electrical distributor makes listed of top technology innovators for eighth straight year

St. Louis-based electrical distributor Graybar was named to this year’s InformationWeek 500, a list of some of the country’s most innovative users of business technology. This marks the eighth consecutive year Graybar has appeared on the list.

In its annual listing, InformationWeek recognizes innovative users of information technology and also tracks the technology, strategies, investments and administrative practices of America’s best-known companies. Graybar was honored for its use of collaboration tools as well as its implementation of software-as-a-service (a technology model in which software is hosted by a provider in a central and remote location and made available to users via the Internet or an Intranet.)

“The InformationWeek listing spotlights companies that develop and execute IT plans that are both innovative and well-rounded," Graybar’s vice president and CIO Scott Clifford said in a statement announcing the award. "Being named to the list for the eighth consecutive time shows Graybar’s continued commitment to technology innovation."

Parker Hannifin sales soar nearly 27 percent

Company also raises its outlook for year

Diversified industrial manufacturer Parker Hannifin Corp reported today that its net income tripled in the first quarter and it also achieved record profit margins. The Cleveland-based company also raised its full-year profit forecast.
The company said orders jumped in every segment. It expects fiscal-year earnings of $5.20 to $5.80 per share up from $3.60 to $4.40 per share.

With annual sales of $10 billion in fiscal year 2010, Parker Hannifin is a leading manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets.
The company employs approximately 55,000 people in 46 countries around the world.

Fiscal 2011 first quarter sales were $2.8 billion, an increase of 26.5 percent from $2.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Net income was $249.0 million compared with $74.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $1.51, which is a quarterly record and compares with $0.45 in last year's first quarter

"Demand levels continued to improve across many markets as reflected in a significant increase in sales for the first quarter," said Chairman, CEO and President Don Washkewicz. "Sales improved in every segment, with total sales increasing 27 percent organically, while foreign currency translation negatively impacted sales by 1 percent. Order rates also increased in all segments.

"We are particularly pleased with our ability to leverage improved top line performance into record level operating margins and earnings. Our total segment operating margin performance was at an all-time record level of 15.5 percent, led by record Industrial North America segment margins of 17.8 percent and record Industrial International segment margins of 16.8 percent. We also continued to deliver strong operating cash flow, which gave us the flexibility to make a discretionary contribution to our pension plan."

In the Industrial North America segment, first-quarter sales increased 36.0 percent to $1.1 billion, and operating income was $189.4 million compared with $76.2 million in the same period a year ago.

In the Industrial International segment, first-quarter sales increased 28.5 percent to $1.1 billion, and operating income was $183.8 million compared with $61.8 million in the same period a year ago.
In the Aerospace segment, first-quarter sales increased 4.8 percent to $436.7 million, and operating income was $43.8 million compared with $53.1 million in the same period a year ago.

In the Climate and Industrial Controls segment, first-quarter sales increased 25.5 percent to $234.7 million, and operating income was $21.6 million compared with $10.5 million in the same period a year ago.

Orders increased 31 percent in the Industrial North America segment, compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Industrial production drops 0.2 percent

Industrial production drops 0.2 percent

U.S. industrial production dropped in September for the first time since June, 2009, according to a report issued today.

Output at factories, mines and utilities fell 0.2 percent, the Federal Reserve said.

Factory production dropped 0.2 percent, reflecting declines in durable goods.
Capacity utilization slipped to 74.7% from a 74.8% rate in August.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Motion Industries' sales rise 29%

Motion’s parent company, GPC, posts strong results, led by its industrial and electrical businesses

Industrial distributor Motion Industries posted a 29% sales gain in the third-quarter, as sales reached $921 million compared to $711 million in the same period a year ago. A division of Genuine Parts Co., Motion Industries and its sister company, electrical/electronics distributor EIS Inc., turned in the strongest results for the quarter, helping GPC post a 22% earnings gain on top of a 13% sales increase.

GPC’s third-quarter sales totaled $2.95 billion. Net income for the third quarter was $132 million, a 22% increase from $108 million recorded in the same period last year. Earnings per share rose 24% to 83 cents.

GPC’s sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30 were $8.4 billion compared with $7.6 billion in the same period last year. Motion Industries’ sales for the first nine months of the year were $2.6 billion, compared to $2.15 billion in the first nine months of 2009.

GPC chairman, president and CEO Thomas Gallagher pointed to this year’s recovery in manufacturing as key to growth in its industrial and electrical groups.

“Sales for Motion Industries, our industrial group, were up 29% for the quarter, and EIS, our electrical group, generated a 31% increase,” he said in a statement announcing the results. “Both Motion Industries and EIS sell into the manufacturing sector of the economy, which has experienced a nice recovery in 2010 and is performing well today.”

GPC saw solid gains in its automotive group, as sales rose 7% for the second straight quarter. Sales in its office products group were down slightly, in line with the company’s expectations.

PT sales grew in U.S., Canada in August

U.S. sales were up 7.6 percent

Sales of power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) products by U.S. and Canadian manufacturers grew in August, after a decline in July. U.S. sales were up 7.6 percent and Canadian manufacturers’ sales were up 2.6 percent according to August 2010 sales data released by the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) in its Market Outlook Report.

In the U.S., year-to-date sales are up 10.2 percent over the same period in 2009. In Canada, sales are 12.0 percent ahead of 2009.

After three months at the neutral position of 5.0, confidence in the market by U.S. manufacturers dropped to 4.8 on a scale of 1 (very pessimistic) to 10 (outstanding). Canadian manufacturers’ confidence rose to 5.2, back from a drop to 4.9 in July.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grainger reports 19 percent sales growth in Q3

Distributor raises outlook for year; will hire 150 sales reps

Broad line distributor Grainger Inc. reported today third quarter sales of $1.9billion, an increase of 19 percent versus the 2009 third quarter. Both quarters had the same number of selling days (64). Net earnings for the quarter increased 4 percent to $150 million versus $145 million in 2009.

Earnings per share increased 10 percent to $2.06 versus $1.88 for the third quarter of 2009. In the third quarter of 2009, Grainger obtained a majority ownership of MonotaRO Co., Ltd. in Japan, and recognized a one-time, non-operating gain of $47 million pre-tax, or $0.37 per share, from the revaluation of this investment. The third quarter of 2010, similar to the first two quarters of the year, benefitted from a policy change for employee paid time off that contributed $0.07 per share. Excluding these unusual items from both periods, net earnings increased 25 percent and earnings per share were up 32 percent for the quarter.

"Our focus on the foundational elements of our business, including industry-leading product availability, outstanding customer service and our ability to leverage economies of scale, was responsible for our strong performance in the quarter," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Ryan.

Ryan added, "We're taking advantage of our strong financial position by accelerating our investment in growth by hiring another 150 sales representatives and onsite inventory services managers, expanding our eCommerce capabilities and further developing services that complement our broad product offering.

“We expect that these investments will contribute to continued market share growth by helping our customers improve their productivity. In the near term however, we expect fourth quarter organic revenue growth to moderate given increasingly tougher comparisons, lower sales contribution from products used to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the slowing of the inventory build cycle with our customers. Our strong performance in the first nine months of the year, combined with our expectations for the fourth quarter, gives us confidence to raise our 2010 sales growth guidance to a range of 14 to 15 percent and increase our earnings per share guidance to a range of $6.40 to $6.70, excluding unusual items."

Previous guidance, issued by Grainger in July 2010, forecasted sales growth of 12 to 14 percent and earnings per share of $6.10 to $6.40 for the full year 2010.
Daily sales for the company increased 21 percent in July, 20 percent in August and 18percent in September. For the quarter, acquisitions contributed 5 percentage points, while sales of oil spill related products contributed 3 percentage points. Sales of seasonal products and foreign exchange added 1percentage point each to sales growth in the quarter. Pricing was flat while volume increased 9 percent.

Company operating earnings of $251 million increased 35 percent in the quarter versus $187 million in the third quarter of 2009

The company has two reportable segments, the United States and Canada, which represent approximately 95 percent of company sales. The remaining operating units (Japan, Mexico, India, Puerto Rico, China, Panama and Colombia) are included in Other Businesses and are not considered a reportable segment.
Sales for the quarter in the United States segment increased 15 percent, 13 percent excluding acquisitions. Daily sales increased 17 percent in July, 15 percent in August and 13 percent in September. Sales of products related to the oil spill clean up contributed 3 percentage points to growth in the quarter. Sales of seasonal products added 1 percentage point due to the hot weather experienced across much of the United States in July and August. All customer end markets within the United States posted sales growth versus the 2009 third quarter.

Sales for the Acklands-Grainger business increased 22 percent in U.S.dollars and 15 percent in local currency versus the 2009 third quarter. Acquisitions completed during the last 12 months contributed 3 percentage points to the growth in the quarter. Local currency sales on a daily basis were up 13 percent in July, up 14percent in August and up 19 percent in September. The sales increase in Canada was led by strong growth to customers in the heavy manufacturing, forestry, mining, and oil and gas sectors of the economy, partially offset by a decline in sales to the government and contractors.

Operating earnings in Canada increased 74 percent in the quarter, 64 percent in local currency.

Sales for the Other Businesses, which include Japan, Mexico, India, Puerto Rico, China, Panama and Colombia, increased 191 percent in the quarter versus prior year. This growth was primarily due to incremental sales from the Japanese and Colombian businesses acquired in the last 12 months, combined with strong sales growth in Mexico, India, China and Panama.

The company also announced it has acquired SafetyCertified, a risk and management firm. Please see our previous post.

Grainger buys SafetyCertified

SafetyCertified is a risk and management business

Broad-line distributor Grainger Inc. said today has acquired substantially all of the assets of SafetyCertified, Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"As North America's largest distributor of safety products, we are committed to helping businesses and institutions manage and operate safe and healthy workplaces," said Mike Pulick, President of Grainger's U.S. Business. "As our customers are asked to do more with less, they are looking for a provider who can meet both product and service needs. By integrating new service capabilities like SafetyCertified into our
U.S. business, we will be able to offer solutions that we expect will help our customers maintain regulatory compliance, reduce accident and injury rates and decrease operating costs."

The SafetyCertified business is a safety and risk-management business that offers an online program to assist organizations in their efforts to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, with program features around OSHA analysis, compliance, training and research. Grainger will offer this fee-based online service to complement its extensive safety product line and focus on comprehensive safety solutions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fastenal reports strong earnings, sales

Company opened 90 stores in first nine months of 2010

The Fastenal Company today reported earnings of $200 million, or $1.36 a share, for the first nine months of 2010, compared to $140 million, or 94 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30th were $1.7 billion, compared to $1.5 billion in the same period a year ago.

Fastenal Company said Tuesday that third-quarter earnings were $75 million, or 51 cents a share, up from $47.6 million, or 32 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Sales came in at $603.8 million, compared to $489.3 million for the quarter.

During the first nine months of 2010, Fastenal opened 90 new stores compared to 45 new stores in the same period of 2009. The 90 new stores represent an increase of 3.8% since December 31, 2009. Fastenal had 2,369 stores on December 31, 2009.

For the quarter, Fastenal's sales were $604 million, a 23% increase over $489 million in the third quarter of 2009. Third-quarter earnings rose 58% to $75 million, compared to $48 million in the third quarter of 2009. Earnings per share grew 59%, at 51 cents per share compared with 32 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

Fastenal's daily sales to manufacturing customers grew, on an annual basis, approximately 15.7%, 29.8%, and 30.6% in the first, second, and third quarters of 2010, respectively. In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2009, the daily sales of this business contracted 16.0%, 25.2%, 22.8%, and 10.1%, respectively. For the year, total sales to manufacturing customers contracted 18.8% from 2008 to 2009.

Fastenal’s non-residential construction customers have historically represented 20% to 25% of the company’s business. The daily sales of this business contracted approximately 14.7% in the first quarter of 2010 and then grew 0.5% and 6.3% in the second and third quarters of 2010, respectively. In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2009, the contraction was 6.4%, 19.6%, 25.3%, and 24.8%, respectively. For the year, Fastenal’s total sales to non-residential construction customers contracted 19.4% from 2008 to 2009.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eaton completes acquisition of CopperLogic

Diversified manufacturer buys maker of electrical and electromechanical systems

Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp. said this week it completed its purchase of CopperLogic, Inc.

CopperLogic makes electrical and electromechanical systems, employs 170 people, and had sales of roughly $35 million during the last 12 months. The company has operations in the United States and Canada, with headquarters in Houston, Texas, and Mississauga, Ontraio.

The deal boosts Eaton’s business with machinery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Eaton said in announcing the deal on September 27.

Eaton has roughly 70,000 employees, sells products to customers in more than 150 countries, and had 2009 sales of $11.9 billion. The company specializes in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety.

BlackHawk buys Duncan Industrial Solutions

It is the first of many expected acquisitions for BlackHawk Industrial Distribution

BlackHawk Industrial Distribution of Tulsa and Brazos Private Equity Partners of Dallas have purchased Oklahoma-based Duncan Industrial Solutions.

BlackHawk is a new company formed by Bill Scheller former CEO of ORS Nasco. Duncan Industrial, a distributor of industrial supplies and equipment, is the company's first acquisition

"Duncan has demonstrated strong performance since it was founded in 1948 and will continue to operate its business in the same fashion going forward,” Scheller said. "Our commitment to Duncan's strategic plan, customers, suppliers, employees and business model will continue to be the foundation upon which we grow our business.”

Duncan has about 160 employees in seven states. The headquarters will remain in Oklahoma City.

"I want to build a national player,” Scheller said. "Duncan is an industrial distributor with deep relationships with its customers.”
Blackhawk will be looking to acquire other companies.

The acquisition of Duncan Industrial by BlackHawk will mean an acceleration of the strategic plan developed by the management team. The focus will be to rapidly grow the business into new market segments, new product categories and new geographical areas.

Blackhawk and Duncan have reportedly identified a pipeline of additional opportunities for growth through acquisitions.

Brazos Private Equity Partners is a middle-market private equity group based in Dallas, TX who partners with individuals, such as Bill Scheller, to invest in companies like BlackHawk and Duncan.

Scheller, the CEO of BlackHawk Industrial, has almost 30 years of experience in the distribution sector, including serving as president and CEO of ORS Nasco.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Avnet acquires two companies

Avnet distributes electronic components, connectors, semiconductors, technology solutions, computer products and embedded technology.

Avnet Inc. yestgerday announced it had made two acquisitions: certain assets of Eurotone Electric Ltd., a distributor of inverters for wind and solar power applications in China, and Broadband Integrated Resources Ltd., a U.S. company specializing in the repair of broadband and cable TV equipment for support of cable operators and manufacturers.

Broadband, with facilities in Columbus and Dallas, has 50 employees and revenue of $9.5 million, according to Phoenix-based Avnet. Founded in 2001, it will become part of Avnet Logistics Services, which provides value added supply chain and logistics services to the global technology industry.

"This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to expand into adjacent services opportunities and provides an entry into the reverse logistics business as well as a new customer base in North America," stated Steve Church, Senior Vice President; Chief Business Development and Process Officer. "With management, systems and processes that have built a successful reverse logistics business, Avnet Logistics Services will gain a proven platform upon which we can expand our service offerings."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stanley Black & Decker to close R.I. plant

Company makes nails, staples and other products under the Bostitch name

Stanley Black & Decker is closing its East Greenwich, R.I. nail and staples factory and will lay off 128 workers. The company said 75 workers will keep their jobs and work at a smaller facility at an undetermined Rhode Island location. The East Greenwich factory makes nails and staples branded with the Bostitch name. In a statement, the company said it was making the move to keep the Bostitch business globally competitive

The shutdown will occur in stages, starting next March, as the factory gradually lays off 128 of the approximately 203 workers who remain there after a series of cutbacks in recent years. The factory will close by December, 2012.

The 75 workers who will keep their jobs will move into a smaller facility at an undetermined location in Rhode Island.
Stanley Fastening Systems, a subsidiary, operates the East Greenwich plant, which manufactures nails and staples branded with the Bostitch name. Production being done in East Greenwich will move to a new facility in Greenfield, Ind.

“This decision was made to realign the fixed-cost structure associated with manufacturing various types of steel fasteners, to enable the Bostitch business to remain globally competitive,” the New Britain, Conn.-based Stanley Black & Decker said in a statement.

The announcement of the shutdown follows earlier rounds of layoffs at the plant over the past several years. At its peak, the factory had about 1,400 workers in the 1980s. A decade ago, it appeared that the factory would close after some production shifted overseas, but it managed to survive. Still, by 2008, the work force had dropped to 633 workers, the Providence Journal reported.
The decline continued with the recession and the downturn in the construction industry. In February, the company announced that it would shut down nail production in East Greenwich this month and eliminate 165 positions.

Textron, the Rhode Island-based conglomerate, acquired Bostitch in 1966, and then sold it in 1986 for $193 million to The Stanley Works, based in New Britain, Conn. Sales were about $200 million then.

The Stanley Works merged with tool manufacturer Black & Decker last March to form Stanley Black & Decker. The company reported sales of $2.4 billion for the second quarter of this year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Manufacturing slowed in September

Fourth quarter could be weaker than expected

Manufacturing expanded in September at the slowest pace in 10 months, indicating that that the fourth quarter could be weaker than originally expected.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index dropped to 54.4 from 56.3 in August, the group reported today. Readings greater than 50 signal growth.

Norbert Ore, head of the ISM’s survey committee, said the September report was “less encouraging” and suggested a weaker fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, a separate report said today that China’s manufacturing expanded in September at the fastest pace in four months. The purchasing managers’ index rose to 53.8 from an August reading of 51.7,

Growth in European manufacturing slowed. A gauge of manufacturing in the 16-nation euro region declined to 53.7 in September from 55.1 the previous month.

The ISM’s U.S. new orders index declined to 51.1 from 53.1, while the production index decreased to 56.5 from 59.9.