Shares of publicly owned industrial distributor Fastenal Inc., Winona, Minn., are getting knocked around a bit this morning on Wall Street and are down $1.35 because the company missed analysts' forecasts for earnings-per-share in 1Q 2012 by a penny. Despite this narrow miss, the company reported that its first-quarter earnings per share were up 26% and that its net sales were up 20% to $768,875 during its most recent quarter.
Even more interesting to industry observers in the distribution market is fact that the company opened up 28 new branches in 1Q 2012, giving it a grand total of 2,611 locations. As a point of comparison, that's more than the five largest full-line electrical distributors had combined in 2011.
The company also announced huge growth in its FAST Solutions industrial vending machine initiative. Fastenal now has 9,798 vending machines installed in the facilities of its industrial customers. These machines don't dispense snacks -- they give customers easy access to MRO supplies like drill bits, WD40 oil, goggles, gloves and tools. Said the company in a press release announcing its 1Q 2012 financials, “We believe our FAST Solutions (industrial vending) have the potential to be transformative to industrial distribution. We also believe we have a 'first mover' advantage, and are investing to maximize the advantage...
"We are pleased with the increases in the number of vending machine contracts signed, and with our ability to install machines. We increased our installed machine base by 2,345 machines (9,798 versus 7,453) in the first quarter of 2012, by 734 machines (2,659 versus 1,925) in the first quarter of 2011, and by 325 machines (892 versus 567) in the first quarter of 2010.”