Fastenal reported adjusted earnings of 60 cents a share in the quarter, up nearly 35% from 45 cents a share a year ago, and matched analysts' expectations. Revenue totaled $1.23 billion, up 13.2% from a year ago, beating Wall Street forecasts of $1.22 billion.
Higher product pricing due to increases during the year to mitigate inflation in the marketplace contributed to sales growth to a lesser extent. Fastener products sales grew 11.3% on a daily basis and represented 34.4% of sales in the quarter. Non-fastener products sales grew 14.6% on a daily basis and made up 65.6% of the quarter's sales.
Fastenal said in a statement that the revenue increase was driven by higher unit sales related primarily to continued strength in underlying market demand and contribution from the company's growth drivers, most notably industrial vending and Onsite locations. The company's fastener products include threaded fasteners, such as bolts, nuts, screws, studs, and related washers.
Gross margin declined 110 basis points to 47.7% in the quarter from 48.8% a year ago due to changes in product and customer mix, inflation, as well as higher product and freight expenses. These unfavorable factors were only partly offset by favorable net rebates, the company said. Operating margin expanded 30 basis points year over year to 19% in the quarter, owing to an improvement in operating and administrative expenses.
For the year, the company reported profit of $751.9 million, or $2.62 a share. Revenue was reported as $4.97 billion.
The company signed 4,980 industrial vending devices during the quarter, up 16.7% from a year ago, and signed 22,073 industrial vending devices in the year, up 14% from 2017.