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MSC Industrial sales up 7.8 percent, earnings dip 3 percent

MSC Industrial Supply president and chief executive Erik

MSC Industrial Supply president and chief executive Erik Gershwind at company offices in Melville on March 27 2013. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Melville-based MSC Industrial Direct Co. said Wednesday that an improving economic environment and increased market share helped lift its fiscal first-quarter sales 7.8 percent from a year ago to $731.1 million.

But MSC, one of the world's largest distributors of industrial tools and supplies, fell short of the $732.8 million projected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg Finance. MSC's net income for the quarter ended Nov. 29 fell 3 percent to $57.4 million, partly due to expenses that included a special $3 cash dividend announced last year.

Per-share income for the quarter fell to 91 cents, from 93 cents a year ago, and missed analysts' estimate of 97 cents.

"As we look forward, I remain extremely confident in our direction," company president and chief executive Erik Gershwind said in a statement. "We are executing on the infrastructure investments needed to support future growth and seeing the returns of our growth investments in the form of strong share gains and improving growth rates."

Those infrastructure investments include a 400,000-square-foot distribution center MSC opened in Columbus, Ohio, last year and a 180,000-square-foot co-headquarters facility in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina, that opened in 2013.

MSC closed at $74.52 a share, down $3.86, or 4.92 percent, in New York Stock Exchange trading Wednesday.

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