Specialty tools and fastener supplier Fastenal Co. reported fourth-quarter sales of $697.8 million, up 21.6% from $573.8 million in the same quarter last year.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, net sales increased to $2.767 billion, up 21.9%.
"During 2010 and 2011, sales were strong -- our business has closely followed the trend line since the fall of 2009," the company stated, adding that February was negatively impacted by weather in each of the past two years.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $87.4 million, up 34.2%. For the full year, net earnings were $357.9 million, up 34.9%.
On Dec. 31, the company had 2,585 stores. It opened 122 new stores, an increase of 4.9%, in 2011. In the prior year, Fastenal opened 127 new stores. And the company's head count increased 14.2% in 2011 to 15,168 employees.
"In 2012, we expect to open approximately 4.0% to 6.0% new stores," the company stated. "We believe this is a rational reaction to the current PMI, and due to the good results we are experiencing with our national accounts and dedicated sales specialists, particularly related to our automated solutions (industrial vending) rollout."
Fastenal continues its progress rolling out industrial vending programs. The number of cumulative machines installed in workplaces increased to 7,453 in the fourth quarter, up from 5,642 in the third quarter. The programs represent 15.7% of Fastenal's total net sales, up from 13.1% in the previous quarter.