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Fastenal Company Reports 2012 Fourth Quarter And Annual Earnings

Stores opened greater than two years – Our stores opened greater than two years (store sites opened as follows: 2012 group – opened 2010 and earlier, 2011 group – opened 2009 and earlier, and 2010 group – opened 2008 and earlier) represent a consistent 'same-store' view of our business. During the months in 2012, 2011, and 2010, the stores opened greater than two years had daily sales growth rates of (compared to the comparable month in the preceding year):

  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 18.8% 17.1% 16.8% 14.5% 10.1% 11.1% 9.1% 8.6% 9.8% 3.8% 5.1% 6.6%
2011 16.0% 18.4% 19.4% 19.6% 19.2% 19.1% 18.7% 16.5% 15.2% 18.0% 18.5% 17.5%
2010 0.6% 2.3% 9.6% 16.3% 18.5% 18.3% 21.3% 19.2% 19.8% 18.8% 14.1% 16.8%

Stores opened greater than five years – The impact of the economy, over time, is best reflected in the growth performance of our stores opened greater than five years (store sites opened as follows: 2012 group – opened 2007 and earlier, 2011 group – opened 2006 and earlier, and 2010 group – opened 2005 and earlier). This group is more cyclical due to the increased market share they enjoy in their local markets. During the months in 2012, 2011, and 2010, the stores opened greater than five years had daily sales growth rates of (compared to the comparable month in the preceding year):
  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 17.4% 15.8% 15.7% 13.7% 9.0% 10.2% 8.3% 7.9% 8.5% 2.6% 4.6% 5.6%
2011 15.3% 17.9% 19.2% 19.1% 17.9% 18.2% 17.3% 15.2% 14.5% 17.0% 17.4% 16.9%
2010 -2.1% -0.5% 7.4% 14.9% 17.3% 16.2% 19.8% 18.2% 18.9% 17.9% 13.2% 16.0%

SEQUENTIAL TRENDS:

We find it helpful to think about the monthly sequential changes in our business using the analogy of climbing a stairway – This stairway has several predictable landings where there is a pause in the sequential gain (i.e. April, July, and October to December), but generally speaking, climbs from January to October. The October landing then establishes the benchmark for the start of the next year.

History has identified these landings in our business cycle. They generally relate to months with impaired business days (certain holidays). The first landing centers on Easter, which alternates between March and April (Easter occurred in April in 2012, 2011, and 2010), the second landing centers on July 4 th, and the third landing centers on the approach of winter with its seasonal impact on primarily our construction business and with the Christmas / New Year holidays. The holidays we noted impact the trends because they either move from month-to-month or because they move around during the week.

The table below shows the pattern to our sequential change in our daily sales. The line labeled 'Past' is an historical average of our sequential daily sales change for the period 1998 to 2003. We chose this time frame because it had similar characteristics, a weaker industrial economy in North America, and could serve as a benchmark for a possible trend line. The '2012', '2011', and '2010' lines represent our actual sequential daily sales changes. The '12Delta', '11Delta', and '10Delta' lines indicate the difference between the 'Past' and the actual results in the respective year. 
  Jan.(1) Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Cumulative change from Jan. to Oct.
Past 0.9% 3.3% 2.9% -0.3% 3.4% 2.8% -2.3% 2.6% 2.6% -0.7% 15.9%
2012 -0.3% 0.5% 6.4% -0.8% 0.5% 2.5% -2.7% 1.3% 4.3% -4.8% 7.1%
12Delta -1.2% -2.8% 3.5% -0.5% -2.9% -0.3% -0.4% -1.3% 1.7% -4.1% -8.8%
2011 -0.2% 1.6% 7.0% 0.9% 4.3% 1.7% -1.0% 1.4% 3.4% 0.7% 21.7%
11Delta -1.1% -1.7% 4.1% 1.2% 0.9% -1.1% 1.3% -1.2% 0.8% 1.4% 5.8%
2010 2.9% -0.7% 5.9% 0.6% 4.8% 1.7% -1.0% 3.5% 4.5% -1.5% 19.0%
10Delta 2.0% -4.0% 3.0% 0.9% 1.4% -1.1% 1.3% 0.9% 1.9% -0.8% 3.1%

(1)  The January figures represent the percentage change from the previous October, whereas the remaining figures represent the percentage change from the previous month.

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