Genuine Parts Is Genuinely Ho-Hum

While Genuine Parts (NYSE: GPC  ) didn't exactly burn rubber during the December quarter, neither did it throw a rod and limp into the pits. So only time will tell whether the company and its peers will benefit meaningfully from a slowing economy and a potential strengthening of the automotive do-it-yourself market.

For the quarter, the company earned $126.1 million, or $0.75 a share, up 5.5% on the net income line from the $119.5 million, or $0.70 a share, for the same quarter of the prior year. The company's sales increased 3.3% to $2.6 billion in the December 2007 quarter.

Genuine Parts' biggest segment, automotive, recorded a 2% increase in sales and a more than 11% increase in its contribution to the overall operating profit, while the industrial group saw its sales climb by more than 7%, only to check in with a 1% drop in operating profit. Office products was down on both the sales and operating profit lines, while the small-contributing electrical/electronic materials unit achieved a greater-than-5% sales increase, along with a 32% hike in operating profit.

For the most part, the somewhat loosely confederated automotive parts manufacturing and distribution business has been solid of late. In addition to Genuine Parts' steady, if unspectacular, performance, Tenneco (NYSE: TEN  ) , TRW Automotive (NYSE: TRW  ) , and ArvinMeritor (NYSE: ARM  ) all posted solid results this quarter.

Nevertheless, I'm not particularly enthralled with Genuine Parts' chart or the "hold" rating it's gotten from two-thirds of the analysts following the company. At the same time, its 3.7% dividend yield just might cause me to keep an eye on its progress.

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