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Fastenal reports a strong 2007

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Winona, Minn.-based Fastenal, an industrial and construction supply company, reported fourth-quarter net earnings rose 23.3 percent to $56.2 million from $45.6 million last year. Net sales for the quarter were $519.2 million, up 15.7 percent from $448.7 million in 2006.

Net earnings for the year were up 16.9 percent, to $232.6 million from $199 million in 2006. For the year, the company reported net sales of $2.06 billion, up 14 percent from $1.81 billion in 2006.

The company attributed the positive results to its new freight model and improvements made in its direct sourcing operations. The company also introduced an “expanded” store model and a “master stocking hub” distribution center model, which represented a departure from its former distribution plan.

“Historically, we have stocked a core selection of products — approximately 6,500 [skus], plus customer specific products at each of our store locations,” read a statement from Fastenal. Some negative factors associated with that model “convinced us to turn our Indianapolis … distribution center from a regional DC into both a regional DC and a North American ‘master stocking hub.’ This will allow all of our locations easy access to a wide variety of product already in the network,” the company said.

Fastenal owns and operates more than 2,000 stores with locations in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Europe and China.

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Earnings fall at Stock, Ferguson

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley, the parent company of Stock Building Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, reported a 10 percent drop in revenues for its North American division during the five-month period ending Dec. 31, 2007. Earnings for the division, which also includes Wolseley’s Canadian operations, fell more than 40 percent.

Stock lost approximately 25 million pounds (US$49.3 million) in the five-month period, compared to a 45 million pound (US$88.7 million) profit in the comparable period a year ago. The Raleigh, N.C.-based pro dealer eliminated 1,500 jobs in the first quarter.

Plumbing wholesaler Ferguson saw a 3 percent rise in revenues due to acquisitions but a 3 percent drop in organic sales growth during the period. Profits were down 3 percent for the Newport News, Va.-based company. Since August 2007, Ferguson’s headcount has been reduced by 1,500.

Stock and Ferguson are no longer obligated to report their financial results to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Wolseley delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, effective Dec. 31, 2007, as a cost-saving measure, according to the company. Wolseley’s shares continue to trade on the over-the-counter market. The company is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Headquartered in Reading, England, Wolseley is an international building materials distributor with nearly 5,000 branch operations in 28 countries.

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Minnesota warns of possible emerald ash borer in Lowe’s planters

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has released a statement warning of a possible emerald ash borer infestation in certain planters sold in that state. The “Nature’s Own Planters” by Lawson Products have not shown signs of an ash borer infestation, according to a statement from the group, but the warning is being issued as a precautionary measure.

“The products apparently were distributed to Lowe’s stores in Minnesota,” said a statement from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Last week, MDA learned that a manufacturer in Indiana allegedly had mislabeled the planter boxes and shipped them into other states during the summer and fall of 2007 without the proper compliance agreement. MDA officials continue to investigate the situation along with their federal counterparts.”

Although Minnesota has not had an infestation of the emerald ash borer, the agriculture department said the insect can move to new areas in infested firewood or other ash material. The emerald ash borer has been blamed for killing 20 million ash trees throughout the Midwest, in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

“We’ve received great cooperation from the retail stores, and now we’re hoping to get help from individual consumers who may have bought these planter boxes,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA plant protection division director. Friisoe said none of the planter boxes inspected by MDA showed signs of emerald ash borer.

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