Why Wolseley Is Up 24% This Year

LONDON -- Wolseley (ISE: WOS.L) has advanced 24% to 2,660 pence so far during 2012, making the share one of this year's best performers in the FTSE 100.

The company, which is the world's largest trade distributor of plumbing and heating products, seems to have impressed investors with a series of encouraging statements.

During March, Wolseley's results for the half-year to Jan. 31, 2012 revealed revenue up 5% to 6.8 billion pounds, trading profits 13% ahead at 310 million pounds, and headline earnings 30% higher at 78 pence per share.

Then, in May, a third-quarter statement announced a 5% increase in revenue, a 10% rise in trading profits, and gross margins had successfully holding at last year's 28%. Wolseley also said net debt had improved by 314 million pounds to 277 million pounds.

Earlier this month, Wolseley published its full-year results for the year ended July 31. The statement revealed that headline sales had gained 5%, with trading profits 10% ahead of last year. While the firm said there had been some weakness in continental Europe, it claimed its U.K. operations had enjoyed a recovery and there had been "good growth" in the U.S. and Canada. Headline earnings rose 18% to 168 pence per share, while disposals enabled net debt to be reduced by 568 million pounds.

Wolseley also announced a 33% lift to its final dividend, as well as a 350 million pound special payout.

Ian Meakins, the firm's chief executive, commented at the time:

Demand across our markets remains mixed and the economic outlook continues to be uncertain. Revenue growth rates in the new financial year have been similar to the fourth quarter of last year. We will continue to reduce our cost base to protect profitability but also to make investments in our businesses that will improve the quality of our operations and generate growth in the future. Whilst we remain cautious about the outlook for our markets, we are confident that Wolseley will make good progress in the year ahead.

Wolseley will issue a first-quarter statement on Dec. 4 that may reveal further positive news to impress investors.

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