Sherwin-Williams 4Q net income soars

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Sherwin-Williams Co. said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income soared, helped by higher demand for paint and easy comparisons to a prior-year period weighed down by hefty income-tax related expenses.

The Cleveland-based company earned $117.2 million, or $1.12 per share, in the last three months of 2012, up from $14.6 million, or 14 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The 2011 quarter included 70 cents per share in income-tax related expenses related to an Internal Revenue Service settlement, along with 3 cents per share in asset impairment charges.

Excluding asset impairment charges of 2 cents per share, the company posted an adjusted profit of $1.14 per share for the recent quarter, which was a penny shy of the average estimate of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $2.22 billion from $2.07 billion a year ago and above average Wall Street estimates of $2.19 billion.

The company credited the revenue increase to higher paint sales volume at its paint stores group and increases in selling prices.

Overall sales at the paint stores group increased 10 percent to $1.25 billion, as the company's sales at stores open at least a year rose 10 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes sales at stores that recently opened or closed.

For the full year 2012, Sherwin-Williams earned $680.2 million, or $6.49 per share, up from $441.9 million, or $4.14 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose to $9.53 billion from $8.77 billion.

The company projected first-quarter earnings of $1.03 to $1.13 per share on a "low single-digit percentage" year-over-year sales increase. Analysts expect first-quarter earnings of $1.09 per share.

For the full year, the company said it expects earnings of between $7.45 and $7.55 per share on a " mid-single digit percentage" sales increase. Analysts expect $7.93 per share.

Sherwin-Williams shares slipped 63 cents to $161.68 in morning trading. They are still near the upper end of their 52-week range of $95.93 to $167.24.

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