Fastenal Company posted strong fourth-quarter and 2012 earnings and sales, thanks in part to new store openings and the success of its industrial vending machines.
 
Net earnings for the Winona-based company—which sells nuts, bolts, and various other fasteners—rose 12.9 percent to $98.7 million, or 33 cents per share, during the last three months of the year. Revenue, meanwhile, increased 8.5 percent to $757.2 million.
 
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 33 cents per share on revenue of $759 million.
 
Meanwhile, for full-year 2012, Fastenal’s net earnings rose 17.5 percent to $420.5 million, or $1.42 per share, and revenue increased 13.3 percent to $3.1 billion.
 
The company opened 80 new industrial hardware supply stores in 2012, bringing its total store count to 2,652—up 3.1 percent from the end of 2011.
 
A major contributor to the company’s continued growth is its vending machines, which are filled with essentials that its manufacturing, construction, and other industrial customers need—from safety glasses, work gloves, and coveralls to paints, aerosol sprays, and power tools.
 
Fastenal installed 13,642 new industrial vending machines last year—a substantial increase from 5,528 machines installed in 2011. The additions bring its total number of machines to 21,095.
 
The company said Thursday that the industrial vending machines are “a rapidly expanding component of our business” and that they represent “the next logical chapter” for Fastenal. The company hoped to reach agreements for 10,000 new vending machines in 2012 and hit that target in July, when nearly half of the year remained. In 2013, it aims to sign 30,000 new machines.
 
Despite the recent sales and earnings increases, Fastenal’s pace of growth has slowed compared to 2010 and 2011. The company said that superstorm Sandy caused a slowdown in the fourth quarter, and it felt the impact of continued softness in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Additionally, demand has waned in its industrial production segment, which supplies parts that become part of its customers’ finished products, and among non-residential construction customers.

On news of the fourth-quarter and full-year financial results, shares of Fastenal’s stock were trading down about 0.8 percent at $46.63 early afternoon on Thursday.
 
To read more about Fastenal’s industrial vending machines in the June issue of Twin Cities Business, click here.

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