Grainger Reports First Quarter Results

Grainger (NYSE: GWW) reported sales of $2.4 billion for the first quarter of 2015, a 2 percent increase over the same period in 2014. The distributor’s net earnings for the quarter declined 3 percent to $211 million versus $217 million in 2014.  Earnings per share of $3.07 were flat versus 2014.

“This was a challenging quarter,” said Jim Ryan, chairman, president, and CEO, in a company press release. “Our results were affected by continued headwinds from the strong U.S. dollar and weakness in the oil and gas sector in North America. We remain encouraged by the growth achieved with large customers in our U.S. multichannel business and the customer acquisition strategy that is fueling our single channel online businesses.”

Grainger’s first quarter sales results for the quarter included a 1 percentage point increase from acquisitions and a 3 percentage points reduction from foreign exchange. Excluding acquisitions and foreign exchange, the firm’s organic sales increased 4 percent driven exclusively by volume growth.

Company operating earnings of $351 million for the 2015 first quarter declined 1 percent versus the 2014 quarter.  Sales for the U.S. segment increased 4 percent in the 2015 first quarter versus the prior year driven by 2 percentage points from volume, 1 percentage point from sales of Ebola related safety products and 1 percentage point from increased sales to Zoro, the single channel online business in the U.S.

First quarter 2015 sales for Acklands-Grainger decreased 8 percent in U.S. dollars but were up 3 percent in local currency. The 3 percent sales increase in local currency consisted of 7 percentage points from WFS Enterprises, Inc. (WFS) acquired on September 2, 2014, and 2 percentage points from price. Sales for Grainger’s other businesses increased 8 percent (21 percent in local currency), for the 2015 first quarter versus the prior year.

Grainger reported operating cash flow of $156 million in the 2015 first quarter versus $168 million in the 2014 first quarter. The company used the cash generated during the quarter, along with cash on hand, to invest in the business and return cash to shareholders through share repurchase and dividends.

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