Grainger Q4 Sales Fall But Earnings Rise

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Grainger, Chicago, said yesterday that fourth-quarter sales fell 8 percent from the prior year's fourth quarter while net earnings of $61.5 million, or 65 cents per share, were up 28 percent and 27 percent, respectively.


Sales during 2001 decreased 4 percent to $4.8 billion from $5 billion in 2000. Net earnings for the year totaled $174.5 million, or $1.84 per share. The full-year results include non-recurring, after-tax charges of $36.6 million, or 39 cents per share.


Grainger.com processed sales of $86 million in the quarter, up 19 percent from fourth-quarter 2000, and $333 million for the full year, a 25 percent rise.


The weaker sales environment for the Branch-based Businesses segment was the primary cause of the 7 percent decline in the segment's operating earnings in the quarter. Sales in the company's other two segments, Lab Safety Supply and Other Businesses, were down 2 percent and up 11 percent, respectively.


Lab Safety Supply's sales results included Ben Meadows, an acquisition made in the first quarter of 2001. Lab Safety Supply's 15 percent decline in operating earnings resulted mainly from weak sales in the nation's industrial sector and higher operating expenses from the expanded use of specialty catalogs.


The sales increase in Other Businesses came from Grainger Integrated Supply. This segment was profitable in the quarter and the full year, compared with a loss in the year 2000 periods as the company trimmed headcount and eliminated marginal contracts.


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