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MSC Industrial Direct sales rise, net income drops in 4Q

MSC Industrial Direct Co. chief executive and president

MSC Industrial Direct Co. chief executive and president Erik Gershwind seen here on May 17, 2016 Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Improving conditions in the country’s manufacturing sector lifted fiscal fourth-quarter sales at Melville-based MSC Industrial Direct Co., but net income fell.

Sales at the company, one of the world’s largest distributors of industrial tools and supplies, rose 1.2 percent to $753.8 million in the quarter ended Sept. 2. Revenue beat the $745.7 million consensus estimate of a panel of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Net income fell 1.8 percent to $60.7 million. Earnings per share rose 4.9 percent to $1.07 cents.

“For the past several years, we have executed our strategic plan in the face of difficult market conditions,” said Erik Gershwind, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

He highlighted improvement in the fiscal year that just ended: “As the environment turned in 2017, we began to see the fruits of this work and enjoyed our first year of significant earnings growth since 2012.”

Sales for the fiscal year rose 0.8 percent to $2.9 billion for the company, which has a second headquarters in Davidson, North Carolina. Net income inched up 0.1 percent to $231.4 million.

On July 31, about a month before MSC’s fiscal year ended, the company closed on its acquisition of Deco Tool Supply Co., a Davenport, Iowa-based company that distributes industrial supplies. It was the company’s first acquisition in four years.

When MSC first announced the completed transaction in early August, it said that Deco, with 10 offices primarily in the Midwest, “complements MSC’s coverage in the region.”

Gershwind sees continued earnings growth.

“Looking forward, we expect to continue growing earnings and expanding operating margins, particularly if the early signs of price inflation materialize in 2018,” he said.

MSC shares closed at $82.90, up 4.28 percent, or $3.40, in New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday.

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