Genuine Parts Co.'s (GPC) fourth-quarter profit rose a better-than-expected 20% as the automotive parts seller and distributor attributed higher sales in all of its businesses--especially its industrial unit--to improving market conditions.
The operator of the NAPA auto parts chain has posted improved results this year, helped by a recovering manufacturing sector. Its auto unit--the largest by revenue--has also seen demand improve after weathering the economic downturn as consumers fixed old vehicles rather than buy new ones. The company on Monday said its board approved a 10% increase to its quarterly dividend, to 45 cents a share, the 55th consecutive year of increases.
Genuine Parts posted a profit of $118.7 million, or 75 cents a share, up from $99.2 million, or 62 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast a per-share profit of 70 cents.
Net sales rose 14% to $2.81 billion, above the company's upbeat October forecast of $2.69 billion to $2.74 billion.
Gross margin narrowed to 29.1% from 31.1% as overhead costs increased 4.6%.
The company's automotive segment sales increased 8.9%, while its profit rose 9.5%. Sales in Genuine Parts' industrial business rose 24% over a prior-year drop, pushing up profit 23%.
Shares closed Friday at $55.25 and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 16% in the past three months.
-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com