Fastenal Posts Strong Q3 While Closing Another 63 Branches

The company's sales and profits both improved about 10 percent despite considerably higher employee-related expenses.

Fastenal Erfw

Fastenal reported its 2021 third quarter financial results on Tuesday, with the figures showing strong sales and profit growth, and that the company's namesake fastener sales appear to be back to pre-pandemic levels.

The Winona, MN-based company — No. 4 on Industrial Distribution's 2021 Big 50 List — reported total sales of $1.55 billion for the July-September period, up 10.0 percent year-over-year and up 3.1 percent sequentially from Q2. The third quarter was a considerable sales acceleration from the 0.1 percent decline seen in Q2.

Q3 2021 had the same number of selling days as in 2020.

Fastenal's Q3 gross profit improved 12.4 percent year-over-year, operating profit of $318 million improved 9.8 percent, and total profit of $244 million likewise improved 9.9 percent.

The company ended the quarter with solid momentum, as September sales grew 11.1 percent year-over-year.

"The third quarter of 2021 continued to experience strong growth in underlying demand for manufacturing and construction equipment and supplies, which drove higher unit sales that contributed to the increase in net sales that we experienced in the period," the company said in its Q3 earnings release. "This growth was slightly limited by slower growth or contraction in sales of certain products to certain end markets related to the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to the third quarter of 2020."


Product Mix Normalizes

Fastenal went on to detail how while the company did see an uptick in sales of certain COVID-related supplies in Q3, improved supply chains in that market has brought down prices, resulting in a significantly smaller impact on Fastenal's total sales from COVID-related supplies. The company noted that Q3 daily sales to government and warehousing customers sunk 40.5 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, while sales of safety products and janitorial supplies fell 2.9 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Fastenal's Q3 fastener sales grew 20.2 percent year-over-year and represented 33.4 percent of total sales; up from 30.5 percent a year earlier and right in line with the 33.7 percent figure seen in Q3 2019. Safety product daily sales dipped 2.9 percent year-over-year and represented 21.1 percent of total Q3 sales, down from 23.8 percent a year earlier and nearing the 18.2 percent seen in Q3 2019. Fastenal's Other product sales grew 9.2 percent in Q3 and represented 45.5 percent of total sales, nearly matching the 45.7 percent of a year earlier and down from 48.1 percent in Q3 2019.

Other notes from Fastenal's Q3 earnings report:

  • Fastenal's e-commerce (including EDI sales) sales surged 44.1 percent in the first nine months of 2021, including 43.4 percent growth in Q3. E-commerce represented 13.9 percent of the company's total Q3 sales.
  • The company said the overall impact of product pricing on net sales in Q3 was 230 to 260 basis points.
  • Daily sales to national account customers increased 16.8 percent year-over-year, with 74 percent of its top 100 customers experiencing growth (82 percent in September). National account customers represented 56.6 percent of Fastenal's total Q3 sales.
  • Daily sales to non-national account customers grew 2.2 percent year-over-year.
  • Employee-related expenses jumped 16.8 percent year-over-year. The company noted an increase in employee base pay due to higher average full-time-equivalent employee count and a "significant increase in bonus and commission payments," reflecting improved business activity and financial performance. Health insurance costs jumped 45.1 percent year-over-year, while occupancy-related expenses increased 3.3 percent.
  • Fastenal ended Q3 with a total headcount of 20,231, down 0.4 percent from Q2 and down 0.5 percent year-over-year.
  • Fastenal ended Q3 with 1,859 public branch locations, down 62, or 3.2 percent from Q2 and down 174, or 8.6 percent, year-over-year. The company opened one branch in Q3 and closed 63. Its number of in-market locations ended Q3 at 3,226, down 0.6 percent from Q2 and down 1.3 percent year-over-year.

Fastenal Vending


During Q3, Fastenal signed 75 new Onsite locations, following 87 in Q2 and 68 in Q1. The company had 1,367 active sites as of Sept. 30, up 10.6 percent year-over-year.

Daily sales from Onsite locations grew better than 20 percent in Q3.

Fastenal expects to sign between 285 and 325 Onsite locations in 2021, down from prior expectations of 300 to 350.

The company's Fastenal Managed Inventory (FMI) — comprised of its FASTVend, FASTBin and FASTStock offerings — had Q3 net sales of $518 million, up 45.0 percent year-over-year and comprised 33.0 percent of total company sales, compared to 25.0 percent of net sales a year earlier.


Financial services provider Edward Jones provided the following opinion to Industrial Distribution on Tuesday regarding Fastenal's Q3 report:

"Overall, the company met expectations, as notable swings in product categories continued to offset each other. Strong sales trends were maintained in key manufacturing and construction markets, driving fastener daily sales growth of 20% over last year. However, as the demand for personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies declined from the pandemic surge, safety products fell 2.9% and janitorial products declined 15%. Profitability remained stable, as the company has been increasing prices to offset rising costs on materials and transportation given high commodity prices and supply chain constraints. We expect management to remain disciplined on pricing and focus on operational expenses to help offset pressures on profitability. In our opinion, Fastenal should be able to gain traction with its growth initiatives as the industrial economy grows and pandemic restrictions ease. Longer-term, we feel the company will continue to foster relations with key customers and participate in growth in industrial end-markets."


  • Notable statistics from Fastenal's September monthly report:
  • Total sales of $531 million grew 11.1 percent year-over-year, with daily sales up by that same amount.
  • By geography, daily US sales grew 9.7 percent; Canada/Mexico sales grew 16.0 percent and other International sales grew 27.9 percent
  • By end market, daily sales to manufacturing customers grew 20.1 percent, while sales to non-residential construction customers grew 11.7 percent
  • By product line, daily fasteners sales grew 19.4 percent (-6.1 percent a year earlier); Safety sales grew 0.7 percent (+30.0 percent); and Other sales grew 9.9 percent (-1.5 percent)
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