From: Reuters
Published January 25, 2008 08:53 AM

Grainger posts better-than-expected profit

CHICAGO (Reuters) - W.W. Grainger Inc <GWW.N>, a distributor of supplies to maintain and repair buildings, posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday due to market expansion, a bigger product line and demand in its international segment.

The maker of lighting, motors and janitorial supplies also reiterated its 2008 profit outlook.

"While we're aware of the concerns many have with the economic outlook for 2008, we remain comfortable that actions we've taken should allow us to deliver our forecasted 2008 earnings per share," Grainger Chief Executive Richard Keyser said in a statement.

Grainger reported net earnings in the fourth quarter rose 5.6 percent to $104.4 million, or $1.28 a share, from $98.9 million, or $1.13 a share, a year earlier.

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Excluding a charge related to cutting 125 information technology jobs, it earned $1.31 a share, 2 cents above what analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had expected.

Revenue increased 10 percent to $1.61 billion, compared with Wall Street forecasts for sales of $1.60 billion. Taking into account the extra sales day in the 2007 fourth quarter versus the prior year, sales rose 9 percent.

The Chicago-based company said it still expects to earns in the range of $5.65 to $6.00 a share in 2008, reaffirming a November forecast. Analysts expect it to earn $5.76.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by John Wallace and Dave Zimmerman)

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