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MSC Industrial Direct reports lower sales, higher net income

MSC Industrial Direct president and CEO Erik Gershwind

MSC Industrial Direct president and CEO Erik Gershwind at Melville offices on March 27 2013. Credit: Johnny Milano

MSC Industrial Direct Co. said Wednesday that its fiscal third-quarter results were mixed, as it continued to face slack economic conditions in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. The company also announced a $300 million stock buyback.

The Melville-based distributor of industrial tools and supplies said sales declined 2.4 percent from the same quarter a year ago to $727.5 million. But net income rose 2.3 percent to $64.8 million in the quarter, which ended May 28. Per-share income increased to $1.05, from $1.03.

“The challenging economic environment grew even more difficult through our third quarter and, as a result, sales were at the lower end of our guidance,” MSC president and CEO Erik Gershwind said in a statement.

But he said the company continued to gain market share, and that trend, coupled with expense reductions, “helped to offset economic headwinds.”

Despite the mixed performance, Gershwind remained upbeat about the company’s outlook.

“Should things deteriorate further, this creates opportunities for MSC such as new customer relationships, the hiring of experienced industry salespeople, and stronger supplier relationships,” he said. “All of these would serve to increase our share-gain potential.”

MSC said the buyback of its Class A common shares could begin as early as Thursday and continue for at least 20 business days. The purchase price will range from $66 to $72.50 a share. If shareholders tender more than $300 million worth of stock, the company said it reserves the right to increase the buyback amount to as much as $390 million, which represents 8.7 percent to 9.6 percent of the company’s common stock outstanding as of July 1.

“Our balance sheet is very strong, allowing us to enhance shareholder returns with this share buyback,” MSC chief financial officer Rustom Jilla said. “This is being done to return excess capital in a transparent and equitable way.”

MSC stock closed at $72.51, up $1.71, or 2.43 percent, in New York Stock Exchange trading Wednesday.

The company, one of the world’s largest industrial distributors, has a second headquarters in Davidson, North Carolina.


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