Fastenal Boosts Q4, 2014 Sales

An aggressive company hiring push helped sales numbers throughout the year, while its rise in FAST vending machines installed helped offset a decrease of 50 stores.

Fastenal, No. 12 on Industrial Distribution's 2014 Big 50 List, posted its 2014 fourth quarter and year-end financial data on Thursday, showing a healthy profit increase in both timeframes.

For the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, Fastenal's sales climed 13.8 percent year-over-year to $926 million, with daily sales improving 15.7 percent. Net earnings for the quarter jumped 19.3 percent to $118.4 million.

For the year, Fastenal's revenue had a 12.2 percent increase to $3.73 billion, daily sales increased 12.7 percent to $14.7 million, while 2014 earnings rose 10.1 percent to $494.2 million.

The fourth quarter earnings were slightly lower than expected, to which Fastenal attributed an expected seasonal slowdown.

"The fourth quarter saw our gross profit dip. Given our seasonality, this is not uncommon, as the fixed cost of our trucking network is spread over lower net sales in the fourth quarter of each year," the company said in a release. "History has shown that this will recover as we enter the post-holiday season."

The fourth quarter profit dip came despite a December sales growth of 17.4 percent, the company's best month of the year by a 2.4-percent margin (August).

Since the summer of 2013, Fastenal has aggressively hired more employees to boost sales growth. The company's total employee headcount increased 6.6 percent in 2014 to 18,417.

The number of Fastenal stores decreased by 50 in 2014 to 2,637. The number of FAST Solutions industrial vending machines jumped 14.9 percent to 46,855.

The company says that as it enters 2015 it intends to expand employee hours and resume headcount expansion.

As we enter 2015, we intend to expand the hours worked at our store locations and will resume the expansion of our headcount to support the future needs of our business and our customers.