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Fastenal (FAST) Misses Q3 Earnings, Core Business Hurts

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Fastenal Company (FAST - Free Report) reported lower-than expected results in the third quarter of 2016, missing estimates for both earnings and sales. Shares declined almost 0.3% in pre-market trading.

Earnings Miss

Adjusted earnings of 44 cents per share in the third quarter missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 45 cents by 2.2%. Earnings also declined 6.4% year over year due to higher expenses and weak margins.

Sales Detail

Net sales of $1,013.1 million missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,014 million by 0.1%. Sales, however, increased 1.8% year over year.

Daily sales growth at the Canadian business was about 5% in the quarter while it was 4% increase in the previous quarter.

Fastenal’s total average daily sales increased 1.8% in the third quarter of 2016, higher than a 1.5% increase in the prior-year quarter. It was also higher than 1.6% increase reported in the second quarter. Foreign exchange dragged down daily sales growth rate in the quarter by 0.1% while acquisitions added 0.6% to sales.

Fastenal’s sales, in the past few quarters, have been affected by price deflation of fastener products, currency headwinds and lack of new products and services. The top line has been adversely impacted by lower sales to manufacturing and construction customers due to overall weakness in the industrial economy.

On a monthly basis, daily sales increased 2.8% in September, 0.3% in August and 2.1% in July. The growth rates were -0.3%, 1.6% and 3.2%, respectively, in September, August and July of 2015.

This industrial and construction supplies wholesale distributor serves customers in the manufacturing and non-residential construction markets.

Daily sales to manufacturing customers (representing almost 50% of revenues) rose 1%, down from growth of 1.1% in the prior-year quarter but up from 0.7% in the previous quarter.

The daily sales growth rate of fastener products (used mainly for industrial production and accounting for approximately 35-40% of the company’s business) declined 2.9% in the quarter, compared to 4.4% decline in the year-ago quarter and a 2.4% decline recorded in the previous quarter.

Price deflation of fasteners and lower demand from the heavy machinery manufacturing customer base -- due to lower production requirements -- has been hurting fastener sales.

Non-fastener product sales (used mainly for maintenance) increased 4.9%, lower than 5.9% growth in the year ago quarter but higher than an increase of 4.7% in the prior-year quarter. Though the non-fastener business is doing better than fasteners driven by strong vending trends, it has nonetheless weakened in the last eight quarters due to prevailing weakness in the industrial environment.

In the non-residential construction market, daily sales to non-residential construction customers (representing 20% to 25% of revenues) declined 1.9% as against a 1.7% decrease in the prior-year quarter and a decline of 1.7% in the previous quarter. Volatility and softer energy prices impacted sales in this market.

Vending Trends Continue to Improve

As of Sep 30, 2016, Fastenal operated 60,400 vending machines, up 12.8% year over year. During the quarter, the company signed 4,783 machine contracts, up 2% from the last year quarter. Vending machines now account for 45% of the company’s sales, higher than 44.6% in the prior quarter.

After remaining soft in 2013, vending trends improved through 2014 and 2015 as well as the first nine months of 2016, as the management’s efforts on enhancing the quality of signings/installs paid off. 

FASTENAL Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


FASTENAL Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | FASTENAL Quote

Margins Decline

Gross margin of 49.3% in the third quarter of 2016 declined 120 basis points (bps) year over year and 20 bps sequentially. Gross margin was hurt by an unfavorable customer mix and product mix.

Pre-tax earnings declined 8.2% to $201.2 million. Pre-tax margins declined 210 bps to 19.9% in the quarter.

Fastenal Company has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).


Cash and cash equivalents was $147 million as of Sep 30, 2016, up from $129 million as on Dec 31, 2015. Long-term debt was $432.4 million, up from $303 million at 2015-end.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the building products sector include The Home Depot, Inc. (HD - Free Report) and BMC Stock Holdings, Inc. (BMCH - Free Report) . While BMC Stock Holdings sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), The Home Depot carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Peer Release

Builders FirstSource, Inc. (BLDR - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and a Zacks Rank #1. The company is expected to release earnings on Nov 3, 2016.

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