Fastenal (FAST)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 13, 2011 10:00 am ET


Ellen Trester -

Daniel L. Florness - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Willard D. Oberton - Chief Executive Officer, President and Executive Director


Hamzah Mazari - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Robert Barry - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Ryan Merkel - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Sam Darkatsh - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Holden Lewis - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Adam William Uhlman - Cleveland Research Company

David J. Manthey - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Thomas L. Hayes - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fastenal Company Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Results. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to your host today, Ellen Trester, Investor Relations. Please begin.

Ellen Trester

Welcome to the Fastenal Company 2011 Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. This call will be hosted by Will Oberton, our Chief Executive Officer; and Dan Florness, our Chief Financial Officer.

The call will last for up to 45 minutes. The call will start with a general overview of our quarterly results and operations by Will and Dan, with the remainder of the time being open for questions and answers. Today's conference call is a proprietary Fastenal presentation and is being recorded by Fastenal. No recording, reproduction, transmission or distribution of today's call is permitted without Fastenal's consent.

This call is being audio simulcast on the Internet via the Fastenal Investor Relations homepage, A replay of the webcast will be available on the website until December 1, 2011, at midnight, Central Time.

As a reminder, today's conference call includes statements regarding the company's anticipated financial and operating results, as well as other forward-looking statements based on current expectations as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may often be identified with words such as we expect, we anticipate, upcoming or similar indications of future expectations.

It is important to note that the company's actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. Information on factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements are contained in the company's periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and we encourage you to review those carefully.

Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, as there is no assurance that the matter contained in such statements will occur. Forward-looking statements are made as of today's date only, and we undertake no duty to update the information provided on this call.

I would now like turn the call over to Will Oberton. Go ahead, Mr. Oberton.

Willard D. Oberton

Thank you, Ellen. Good morning, everybody, and I want to thank you for joining us on the call today. Dan and I are going to both give some brief comments, and we're going to open it up for questions. I'd like to start by saying I think we had another good quarter. Our sales came in at 20.4% for the third quarter. Year-to-date, we're at 22%. For the third quarter, we were a little lower than the first 2 quarters, but we're still above the sequential trend -- our historical sequential trends. We're very optimistic about that. Our Manufacturing customers, as we stated, grew at 18.3% as compared to 18.5% in the second quarter and 15.5% in the first quarter. So there has not been a lot of change, but if anything, it's remained strong. So we're very optimistic about that. Non-Residential Construction grew at 15.8%, the same as the second quarter, and that's an area that there isn't a tremendous amount of activity. Most of that's coming in energy jobs and larger construction jobs in infrastructure, but you don't see much as you drive around in these tower cranes and things like that. So I think our team's doing a nice job digging it out wherever they can.

So overall, the sales trends are good, and we remain optimistic in somewhat of an uncertain time. We don't have a tremendous amount of visibility, but the anecdotal stuff that we're getting from our people in the field is still quite positive, although there are a few signs of things slowing a little bit. But for the most part, it's very positive.

On the earnings growth, we grew our earnings at 29.1%. Very good number. It's interesting though about perspective. I was looking at it going, boy, we didn't even grow over 30%. Because we've had such a good run 29%, it's still a strong number.

I feel very good about our expense control. I think that the team did a nice job. We picked up 140 basis points of pretax earnings over last year. Our goal of 'pathway to profit' is to pick up 100 points, so we've been able to exceed that goal. And I really feel good about the job the team did on controlling the expenses.

Pretax profit at 21.4% of sales. That's a record. And net income, north of 13% at 13.3%. That's a number I think we can also be proud of. There's only been -- I think last quarter is the only time we've ever exceeded 13% on a net income basis.

Switching gears, talk about store openings a little bit. Our store openings came in lower than we had earlier -- than we had planned and thought we would earlier in the year. But I'm not overly concerned with this because at this point, I'd rather see -- if we can only get so many things done, which is really the case, I'd rather see that our people put more energy into our Automated Supply, our vending solutions, because it's more timely. Our competitors are not out opening stores in the markets that we plan to open in the future, but they are talking about Automated Supply and vending. So I think the faster we can move that project along, long term, that will be a better long-term strategic decision, and the store openings and the opportunities will probably be there in the future -- I believe will be there in the future. So we're working very hard on the Automated Supply.

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