Power tools continue to sell rapidly, with Stanley Works (NYSE:SWK) reporting record first-quarter earnings and sales. Its operating earnings jumped 21% to $67 million, or $0.78 per share, while sales rose 10% to $806 million.

Sales were powered by the industrial tools segment, which increased sales by 11% over last year's quarter. However, consumer product sales were flat, as large home centers like Home Depot (NYSE:HD) work toward reducing inventories. Sales in the security solutions business were up 24% (sales were bolstered by acquisition activity; organic growth was flat), but operating margins decreased because the company acquired businesses with lower margins and its higher-margin automatic door installations were hampered by poor weather.

The company's gross profit declined in the quarter to 35.8% from 36.5% of sales last year. Its operating margins were also down as the result of increased commodity costs, and presumably, the effect of acquiring lower-margin businesses. Stanley Works was unable to pass on the costs to buyers of consumer products. However, it did recoup some of the costs in its industrial tools business, which generated an increase in operating margins to 10.5% from 9.1%.

Looking ahead, the company expects to earn $0.75 to $0.79 per share in the second quarter. For the full year, it estimates earnings of $3.20 to $3.30 per share. That puts its forward price-to-earnings ratio in a range of 13.9 to 14.3. Compare that with its main rival, Black & Decker (NYSE:BDK), which has a forward P/E of just under 12, and it's just a bit pricier. An important consideration for stocks of this sort is that sales are in part tied to strength in housing markets.

All said, though, Stanley Works continues to be a reliable player in the business of selling power tools. Assuming it can improve margins a bit, with strong sales and earnings growth, and a reasonable price tag, it's my opinion that Stanley Works has a lot to offer investors.

Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies in this article.