MSC Industrial Direct ( MSM), a tools and industrial supplies distributor, said its second-quarter ended Feb. 25 earnings rose 21.6% from the year-ago period, on increased revenue and free cash flow. The company earned $33.3 million, or 49 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $27.4 million, or 39 cents a share, a year ago. Result includes one cent a share charge related to the departure of an executive and a 2-cent-a-share stock-option expense. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of $33.2 million, or 49 cents a share in the most recent quarter. Second-quarter revenue rose 12.7% from a year ago to $305.9 million, while analysts were expecting revenue of $305 million. For the third quarter, the company expects earnings of 52 cents to 54 cents a share on revenue of $323 million to $327 million, without taking into account the J&L transaction. Analysts are expecting earnings of 53 cents a share on revenue of $323.7 million. ''Free cash flow, or net cash provided by operating activities minus expenses for property, plant and equipment, increased to $6.8 million, compared with $1.3 million a year ago,'' the company said. Second-quarter gross profit rose 16.4% from a year ago to $145.4 million. Gross margin increased 151 basis points to 47.5%. Operating income rose 23.2% from a year ago to $54.1 million. Operating margin increased 151 basis points to 17.7%. The Melville, N.Y.-based company previously said that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire J&L unit of Kennametal ( KMT) for $349.5 million.