Our motto is Growth through Customer Service . This is important given the points noted above. We believe in efficient markets – to us, this means we can grow our market share if we provide the greatest value to the customer. We believe our ability to grow is amplified if we can service our customer at the closest economic point of contact. 

The concept of growth is simple, find more customers every day and increase your activity with them. However, execution is hard work. First, we recruit service minded individuals to support our customers and their business. Second, we operate in a decentralized fashion to help identify the greatest value for our customers. Third, we build a great machine behind the store to operate efficiently and to help identify new business solutions. Fourth, we do these things every day. Finally, we strive to generate strong profits; these profits produce the cash flow necessary to fund the growth and to support the needs of our customers.

MONTHLY SALES CHANGES, SEQUENTIAL TRENDS, AND END MARKET PERFORMANCE

Note – Daily sales are defined as the sales for the period divided by the number of business days (in the United States) in the period. 

This section focuses on three distinct views of our business – monthly sales changes, sequential trends, and end market performance. The first discussion regarding monthly sales changes provides a good mechanical view of our business based on the age of our stores. The second discussion provides a framework for understanding the sequential trends (that is, comparing a period to the immediately preceding period) in our business. Finally, we believe the third discussion regarding end market performance provides insight into activities with our various types of customers.

MONTHLY SALES CHANGES:

All company sales – During the months in 2012, 2011, and 2010, all of our selling locations, when combined, 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 21.3% 20.0% 19.3% 17.3% 13.1% 14.0% 12.1% 12.0% 12.9%      
2011 18.8% 21.5% 22.8% 23.2% 22.6% 22.5% 22.4% 20.0% 18.8% 21.4% 22.2% 21.2%
2010 2.4% 4.4% 12.1% 18.6% 21.1% 21.1% 24.4% 22.1% 23.5% 22.4% 17.9% 20.9%

The growth in the first three months of 2012 generally continued the relative strength we saw in 2011 and in most of 2010. The April to June 2012 time frame experienced a reduction in our daily sales growth rate as the market we sell into slowed (see further discussion in sequential trends and end market performance). This slow down continued into the July to September 2012 time frame. The change in currencies in foreign countries (primarily Canada) relative to the United States dollar lowered our daily sales growth rate by 0.3% during the first nine months of 2012 (this lowered growth in the first, second, and third quarters was 0.1%, 0.4%, and 0.2% respectively). This was a sharp contrast to 2011 and 2010, when changes in foreign currencies increased our growth in the first nine months by 0.9% and 0.3%, respectively.

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%      
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%      
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 4th, 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.

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