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Grainger shuts 25 U.S. branches in 2011

Forecasts 2012 sales growth of 10-14%

Chicago-based Grainger announced it will close 25 branches in the U.S. before year-end at its Annual Analyst Meeting.

The distributor also forecast its sales for the fourth quarter 2011 and for 2012. For the 2011 fourth quarter, Grainger expects sales to grow 12 percent to 13 percent. For the full year 2011, the distributor expects growth of 11 percent to 12 percent.

Grainger forecasts growth will continue at that pace, with sales increasing 10 percent to 14 percent in the full year 2012. Organic sales growth for 2012 is forecasted at 6 percent to 10 percent.

As part of the meeting, Grainger provided the following outlook for sales and earnings in 2011 and 2012: 

• For the 2011 fourth quarter, the company is forecasting sales to increase 12% to 13%, and expects earnings per share for the quarter to be between $1.94 and $2.09, excluding unusual items. The company also announced today that it intends to close 25 branches in the United States before year end, and expects to incur a charge of approximately $14 to $18 million, or $0.12 to $0.15 per share, which is excluded from fourth quarter and 2011 guidance. 

• For the full year 2011, the company reiterated its sales growth forecast of 11% to 12%, and narrowed its earnings per share forecast to be between $8.85 and $9.00, excluding unusual items.  The company’s prior 2011 full year EPS forecast of $8.80 to $9.00 was issued on October 18th in conjunction with its third quarter 2011 earnings release.

• For the full year 2012, the company is forecasting sales to increase 10% to 14%, and expects earnings per share to be between $9.90 and $10.65. Organic sales growth for 2012 is forecasted at 6% to 10%.

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