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MSC aiming for $2B revenue

Tool distributor MSC Industrial Direct of Melville has set a goal this year of surpassing the $2-billion mark in annual revenue -- an all-time high -- and its newly reported third-quarter sales numbers are a strong step in that direction, the company says. MSC sells online and through the company's catalog, called The Big Book, which lists 600,000 tools and supplies in a 4,484-page volume weighing more than 10 pounds. It specializes in metalworking, maintenance and repair equipment. So far this year, with three quarters reported, MSC is on track with $1.488 billion in revenue. Third-quarter results were made public yesterday. They show MSC had $62.1 million in profit on $532.38 million in sales for the quarter ended May 28, up from the year-ago quarter's $44.2 million profit on $450.3 million in sales. "Coming out of the recession in 2010, we laid out a plan that included accelerated market share gains due to the power of our model and our investment initiatives," David Sandler, president and chief executive, said in the company's announcement. -- JOSEPH MALLIA

Lakeland expanding south

Protective-garment maker Lakeland Industries Inc. of Ronkonkoma plans to expand its operations and marketing in major South American nations and Mexico using a new $6.5-million secured revolving line of credit with TD Bank NA. The new line of credit, combined with a previous $23.6-million line from the same bank, "provides Lakeland with a favorable increase in its terms that allows up to $6.5 million to be used to fund capital expansion in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, as well as the ability to refinance existing debt in Canada," the company announced yesterday. Lakeland's borrowings from the line will be in the form of a five-year term loan, and the company will have the option of converting such term loans to a fixed rate of interest. -- JOSEPH MALLIA


Bumper crop of corn planted

U.S. food prices may ease later this year now that farmers have planted the second-largest corn crop in nearly seven decades. The size of this year's corn crop will be 92.3 million acres, the U.S. Agriculture Department said yesterday. That's 9 percent larger than the average annual corn crop over the past decade. The only crop bigger in the past 67 years was planted in 2007. Many analysts had worried that wet weather this spring would cut the number of corn acres. But record-high prices are encouraging farmers to use more acres for corn, and less for soybeans and wheat. More expensive grain has led to food price increases this year. That could ultimately make everything from beef to cereal to soft drinks more expensive at the supermarket. For all of 2011, the USDA predicts food prices will rise 3 percent to 4 percent.-- AP

GOP senators balk on trade

Senate action on three stalled free trade agreements was cut short yesterday when Republicans refused to participate, objecting to linking the deals to renewal of a program that retrains U.S. workers hurt by foreign trade. A Senate Finance Committee hearing on legislation involving agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama was canceled amid recriminations from both parties about playing politics. There's bipartisan support for action on the pacts, holdovers from President George W. Bush's administration. Economists have said they could generate 250,000 jobs and increase U.S. exports by $13 billion. But the Obama administration has said it wants the legislation to include renewal of expired sections of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides financial and job-retraining help to workers hurt by foreign competition. Republicans want to consider that separately. -- AP

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