What happened

It's right there in the name: Fasten. All. Whatever you might need to fasten together to build a house, for example -- be it a screw or a bolt, a nut or a washer, Fastenal Company (NASDAQ:FAST) makes it. And as we found out in its second-quarter 2018 earnings report, released  this morning, Fastenal makes a lot of money providing useful parts and services to the construction and manufacturing industries.

Earnings for the quarter came in at $0.72 per share, $0.06 ahead of Wall Street's expectations, and that unexpectedly good result is lifting Fastenal shares as much as 10% as of 2:10 p.m. EDT.

Two bolts leaning on two nuts

Things are pointing up for Fastenal stock. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Fastenal took in $1.3 billion in sales last quarter, 13% more than in the year-ago quarter. Gross margins on those sales dipped a bit, but thanks to timely cost-cutting, Fastenal was able to hold its operating profit margin steady at 21.2%, expand its net profit margin, and thus grow net earnings 43% to $0.74 per diluted share.

Roughly $0.15 of those profits owed to the beneficial effects of tax reform, but even without that benefit, profits would have grown a healthy 13% -- in line with sales growth.

Now what

Management didn't provide earnings guidance for the rest of the year, but according to Yahoo! Finance data, analysts expect $2.49 per share in total profit for the current year -- 30% better than last year's showing. Thanks to this unexpectedly strong Q2 report, Fastenal is now more than halfway toward reaching its goal, with $1.34 earned in the year's first six months, and only $1.15 more to go.

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