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MSC Industrial sales, net dip on headwind from strong dollar

Erik Gershwind, CEO of MSC Industrial of Melville,

Erik Gershwind, CEO of MSC Industrial of Melville, on March 27 2013. Credit: Johnny Milano

Melville-based MSC Industrial Direct Co. said Wednesday both its fiscal first-quarter sales and net income fell as its manufacturing customers continued to grapple with negative economic factors, including a strong dollar that makes its exports pricier.

Sales at MSC, which distributes industrial tools and supplies, dropped 3.3 percent from a year earlier to $706.8 million in the quarter ended Nov. 28. The company’s revenue fell short of a Bloomberg Markets survey that expected $708.3 million.

Net income slid 4.2 percent to $55 million.

Per-share income fell to 89 cents, from 91 cents in the year-earlier quarter.

“Ongoing lower oil prices, the strong U.S. dollar with its negative effect on export demand, and the soft pricing environment driven by low commodity prices all continue to negatively impact broader manufacturing activity,” said Erik Gershwind, the company’s president and chief executive.

But he also said the company continues to gain market share: “Our share gains are notable in the current challenging market, but we also are improving our cost base, which will result in greater leverage when growth returns.”

Barring an improvement in market conditions, the company, which has a second headquarters in Davidson, North Carolina, expects more revenue declines in its fiscal second quarter, which ends in February. It estimates sales will fall to between $680 million and $692 million.

But the company said it expects a “stronger second half.”

That outlook, Bloomberg said, helped lift the company’s stock $3.73, or 6.6 percent, to $60.29 in New York trading Wednesday. They surged ahead of their 52-week low of $54.19 but remained considerably below their high of $78.92 for the 52-week period.

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