Baron Funds Comments on Fastenal
After having risen nearly 25% during the first quarter, shares of Fastenal Co. (FAST), the leading industrial supplies distributor, declined. Demand from its manufacturing and commercial construction clients decelerated slightly, given the tougher economic climate. Sales across the company's 2,500 stores strengthened considerably throughout 2011, thereby creating difficult annual sales comparisons for 2012. Despite the more challenging economic backdrop, we believe that the company remains innovative, continues to invest in its business, and will benefit meaningfully from its initiative to install automated vending machines at many customer locations.