Grainger beats estimates as 1Q income soars 59%

By Associated Press
Posted Monday at 9:10 a.m.

Industrial supply company W.W. Grainger Inc. said Thursday that first-quarter net income soared 59 percent, causing the company to raise its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts.

Grainger’s stock rose $4.45, or 3.1 percent, to $147.31 in morning trading.

Grainger has been ramping up spending, and so far it is benefiting from the investment. It is offering new products, encouraging online shopping and pushing into foreign markets including Mexico, Colombia and Japan.

Grainer reported first-quarter net income of $158 million, or $2.18 per share, up from $99 million, or $1.31 per share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings per share beat estimates for $1.80.

Revenue increased 13 percent to $1.88 billion and beat predictions of analysts polled by Factset for $1.85 billion.

In a statement, CEO Jim Ryan noted Grainger’s expansion in emerging markets and said the company intends to “more aggressively fund similar investments” for the rest of the year.

Ryan also said the company is raising its estimates for 2011 sales growth, to 7 to 10 percent, compared with November’s forecast of 5 to 9 percent. The company raised its year-long earnings-per-share guidance to $8.10 to $8.60, up from $7.15 to $7.90.

Grainger also has been buying back shares, which usually indicates that a company expects the stock price to rise. Grainger sells tools for maintenance and repair to offices, restaurants and manufacturers.

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