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Fastenal (FAST) Up 22.4% Over a Year: Will it Gain Further?

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With the opening of the economy, demand for industrial and construction supplies has been improving. Fastenal Company (FAST - Free Report) is such a building materials company that has been riding on positive industry trends.

The company’s shares have gained 22.4% in the past year compared with the Zacks Building Products - Retail industry’s 19.7% growth. Both Fastenal and the industry have broadly outperformed the Zacks Retail-Wholesale sector in the same period.

The uptick can primarily be attributable to its prime focus on boosting e-commerce and full-line industrial suppliers. Also, it has been benefiting from strong industrial vending business, Onsite locations and cost-saving efforts. This apart, the company is well positioned in terms of liquidity to overcome any unforeseen situation in the near term. Yet, inflationary pressures and supply chain-related issues are concerns for this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company.

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You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Let’s see how these strategic initiatives are helping the company mitigate top-line risks.

Focus on Strategies: Fastenal has been emphasizing on virtual platforms to boost customers’ engagement. The company has slashed hundreds of branches since 2013 in favor of vending machines and online sales, in response to changes in customer dynamics. During the first and second quarters of 2021, daily sales through e-commerce increased 35.5% and 53.3%, respectively, year over year. In fact, revenues attributable to e-commerce represented 12.2% and 41.7% of total revenues, respectively. The growth is likely to continue in second-half 2021, given changing customer dynamics.

Fastenal has gradually expanded from a fastener distributor to a full-line industrial supplier. It has expanded its product lines to include an internal manufacturing division, government sales, Internet sales, metalworking and industrial vending. Fastenal has also built a national accounts team, which is dedicated to servicing corporate customers. These initiatives are gaining traction and will help it achieve future profitability.

Cost-Reduction Efforts: Fastenal, which shares space with Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. (BECN - Free Report) , Builders FirstSource, Inc. (BLDR - Free Report) and Tecnoglass Inc. (TGLS - Free Report) in the same industry, intends to reduce costs arising from tariffs and freight expenses. It has undertaken various cost-control measures like automating warehouses, increasing delivery efficiency through the trucking network and selling more private-label products with higher margins. In second-quarter 2021, the company witnessed a sharp increase in the mix of fastener sales and significant drop in non-fastener sales, which resulted in higher gross margins (up 200 basis points year over year). Higher gross margin for the period was driven by product mix, overhead/organizational leverage and improved safety product margin on a shift in customer mix.

Solid Industrial Vending Business & Onsite Locations: Amid the current market situation, wherein people are indulging in less human contact to avoid the virus, Fastenal’s Industrial vending business is a boon for the company. These machines help customers in controlling inventory and administrative costs, while reducing product consumption. The non-fastener product line has benefited significantly from its initiatives pertaining to industrial vending.

At the start of 2021, Fastenal disclosed a weighted FMI or Fastenal Managed Inventory measure that combines the signings, installations, and sales of FAST Vend and FAST Bin into a standardized machine equivalent unit based on the expected output of each type of device. In first-quarter 2021, the company signed 4,683 weighted FMI devices, almost in line with 4,692 in the prior-year period.

Its Onsite locations — in which a mini-Fastenal shop is located in a customer’s plant — are helping it serve customers better. As of Jun 30, 2021, the company had 1,323 active sites, up 9.2% from the comparable year-ago period. Second-quarter 2021 daily sales through Onsite locations (excluding sales transferred from branches to new Onsites) increased more than 25% from a year ago. The increased number of onsite locations is likely to expand Fastenal’s market share.

Prospects Look Good: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings and revenues is pegged at $1.55 per share and $5.89 billion, indicating 4% and 4.4% year-over-year growth, respectively.

Earnings are likely to rise 9% in the next three to five years. The uptrend is supported by a solid Growth Score of B and robust earnings surprise history, having surpassed analysts’ expectation in five of the trailing six quarters.