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What Awaits Fastenal Company (FAST) in Q1 Earnings?

Fastenal Company FAST is set to report first-quarter 2016 results on Apr 12, before the market opens. Last quarter, Fastenal delivered a negative surprise of 2.50%. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors to Consider this Quarter

Fastenal reported disappointing sales and profits in the fourth quarter of 2015. Revenues were hurt by lower sales to customers in the oil & gas industry, a stronger U.S. dollar, softness in the Canadian business and overall weakness in the industrial economy. We do not expect any significant improvement in sales in the to-be reported quarter as well.

Sales of Industrial fasteners have been declining since the past few quarters due to lower demand from the heavy machinery manufacturing customer base, mainly from those engaged in the oil & gas business, which resulted from lower production requirements. Since the volatility in the oil & gas business continues, industrial fasteners sales are unlikely to improve in the soon-to-be reported quarter.

Lack of price inflation, an unfavorable product mix, and pricing and competitive pressures are hurting gross margins. The product mix has shifted from high-margin fastener products to lower margin non-fastener products. The customer mix has shifted toward the large-account end-market, which produces low-margin gross profit but stronger operating income. In fact, the company expects these trends to continue.

Nonetheless, vending trends improved in 2015 as efforts to improve the quality of signings/installs paid off. This trend is expected to benefit results in the to-be reported quarter. Management’s cost control initiatives are also impressive and should support the bottom line.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Fastenal is likely to beat earnings this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. Unfortunately, that is not the case here, as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP is 0.00% as both the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate stand at 44 cents.

Zacks Rank: Fastenal’s Zacks Rank #2 increases the predictive power of ESP. However, we need to have a positive ESP to be confident about an earnings surprise.

However, we caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and #5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies in the construction sector, that, according to our model, have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. CX, with an Earnings ESP of +66.67% and a Zacks Rank #1.

Headwaters Incorporated HW, with an Earnings ESP of +11.11% and a Zacks Rank #1.

Trex Co. Inc. TREX with an Earnings ESP of +1.54% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
TREX COMPANY (TREX): Free Stock Analysis Report
HEADWATERS INC (HW): Free Stock Analysis Report
FASTENAL (FAST): Free Stock Analysis Report
CEMEX SA ADR (CX): Free Stock Analysis Report
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