W.W. Grainger Lowers Outlook As Pricing Actions Weigh On First-quarter Earnings

By Ciara Linnane Markets MarketWatch Pulse

W.W. Grainger Inc. said Tuesday net income fell 6% to $175 million, or $2.92 a share, in the first quarter, down from $187 million, or $2.98 a share, in the year-earlier period. Sales rose 1% to $2.5 billion. The supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products was expected to report EPS of $2.99 and sales of $2.563 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet. "Overall, the first quarter clearly fell short of our expectations, driven primarily by the stronger than anticipated customer response to our U.S. strategic pricing actions, with a greater volume of products sold at more competitive prices," Chief Executive DG Macpherson said in a statement. The company is now planning to full forward pricing actions planned for 2018 to the 2017 third quarter and lowered its full-year outlook to reflect the change. The company is now expecting 2017 sales go grow 1% to 4%, compared with prior guidance of 2% to 6%. It expects EPS of $10.00 to $11.93, down from prior guidance of $11.30 to $12.40. The company said it will work to improve margins and reduce costs in Canada, which remains challenged. Shares were halted for the news, and had not traded premarket after the halt was lifted. But they are down 4% in 2017, underperforming the S&P 500 , which has gained 5%.

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