Tractor Supply packs a double-digit wallop in Q4

Tractor Supply Company shot up by the double-digits in the fourth quarter, with net sales jumping 16.4% over the year-ago quarter.

"While it was obviously a challenging retail environment, our Tractor Supply team managed the business well and drove strong comparable store sales and earnings per share growth," said CEO Greg Sandfort. "Throughout the quarter, the team worked hard to take advantage of weather trends, localize assortments, manage inventory and shorten the supply chain."

"Our focus was on driving sales in key categories and keeping our inventory current in others. On a market-by-market basis, we aligned our business from all sides -- merchandise, pricing, promotion and inventory. We did this by communicating regularly with our field managers and customers, analyzing sales and product data, and regularly reviewing pricing and promotional strategies. While we never have all the answers, we believe we were successful at driving growth in the fourth quarter through careful planning and execution of our business."

Net sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31 came in at $1.92 billion, up from $1.65 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Comparable store sales increased 3.1% versus a decrease of 1.4% in the prior year's fourth quarter, driven by strong performance in everyday basic items across a number of consumable, usable and edible (C.U.E.) and hardline related areas such as livestock and pet, bird and wildlife, trailers and accessories, hand tools and livestock equipment.

Meanwhile, net income increased 10.6% to $123.6 million from $111.7 million.

The company also opened 21 new stores and closed one Del's store during the quarter, compared to 26 new store openings and three store closures, two of which were Del's stores, in the prior-year period.

This year's fourth quarter was also marked by the acquisition of Petsense LLC.

For fiscal 2016, net sales increased 8.9% to $6.78 billion, and net income increased 6.5% to $437.1 million.

The company issued its guidance for 2017, which involved net sales between $7.22 billion and $7.29 billion, and net income between $445 million and $457 million.

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