Fastenal – No. 12 on Industrial Distribution's 2015 Big 50 List – posted its January 2016 sales figures on Wednesday, and its numbers may provide a glimmer of hope in an otherwise gloomy past year of earnings reporting for large industrial distributors.
The Winona, MN-based company posted January sales of $308.4 million, a 3.3 percent daily sales increase over January 2015. This marks the first month of year-over-year sales growth for Fastenal since August 2015, when it grew 1.6 percent. December 2015's total sales were $286.6 million.
Fastenal's previous four months posted yearly sales declines, each bigger than the last:
- December 2015 -3.8 percent
- November 2015 -1.1 percent
- October 2015 -0.8 percent
- September 2015 -0.3 percent
- August 2015 +1.6 percent
Fastenal's overall January sales were 1.6 percent lower than January 2015, but January 2015 had one more selling day. Currency fluctuations had a negative 1.2 percent impact on daily sales last month, compared to negative 0.8 last year, while acquisitions had a positive 0.8 percent impact last month, compared to a positive 0.2 percent impact last year.
Fastenal's January daily sales growth to manufacturing customers grew 1.9 percent over last year, and grew 1.2 percent to non-residential construction customers.
The company's fasteners sales actually declined 0.4 percent in January compared to last year, but considerably better than December 2015's decline of 4.3 percent.
Fastenal opened 9 stores in January, on pace to meet its plan of opening 60 to 75 new stores in 2016. It's nationwide store count was 2,631 at January's end.
Fastenal's absolute full-time headcount at the end of January was unchanged from December's end, currently at 17,262. That figure is 9.9 percent higher than at the end of January 2014.
"Consistent with our message on our January 2016 earnings call, we are currently holding back on headcount additions in all areas except for vending support and our IT development center," Fastenal said Thursday.
The company noted its trends improved in January compared to last year, as about 60 percent of its 'Top 100' customer group had sales growth during the month, compared to 50 percent of the group in Q4.