Shares in Fastenal Co. jumped 17% on Friday, the biggest single-day gain since shortly after the firm went public in 1987, after it reported jumps in third-quarter sales and profits that defied expectations in a slowing economy.
The Winona-based maker and distributor of industrial and construction supplies, traditionally the first public company in Minnesota to release new results each quarter, said higher unit sales at industrial vending and other customer on-site locations outweighed the impact of slower economic growth.
Fastenal was also able to raise prices on goods, but executives said that had a smaller impact on revenue growth than unit sales did.
Fastenal’s profit rose 8% to $213.5 million in the July-September quarter. Sales rose 7.8% to $1.38 billion.
The company’s stock opened about 10% higher, then climbed through the day. Fastenal shares closed up $5.32 to $36.34, a record high.
Because it sells products to industrial businesses of all sizes, Fastenal’s results are widely viewed as an indicator of the health of the manufacturing sector. Its strong performance countered perceptions, shaped by recent data from government and university surveys, that manufacturing activity is slowing markedly and even tumbling into recession.
Fastenal executives said they adjusted to tariffs on some imported goods the firm distributes by changing their source country and lifting prices.
“The team executed nicely on pricing, which produced a better gross margin,” Dan Florness, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with analysts and investors.
“Our team adjusted really well to slowing business … to provide nice incremental margins while at the same time we continue to invest in the growth of our business,” he added.