* Fastenal sales down 14 pct, Grainger sales dip 12 pct
* Fastenal EPS $0.33 misses estimates of $0.34/shr
* Grainger adj EPS $1.26 beats estimates of $1.06/shr
* Grainger shares up 8 pct, Fastenal down 3 pct
April 14 (Reuters) - U.S. industrial distributor W.W. Grainger Inc (GWW.N) reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, while rival Fastenal Co (FAST.O) fell short of market estimates by a penny.
Shares of Grainger rose 8 percent to $83.32, while those of Fastenal were down 3 percent at $36.97.
Sales at both the companies saw a double-digit decline as recession-wary customers cut down on their buying activities.
"We do not believe that we have seen the bottom to the sales decline and expect increased pricing pressure throughout the remainder of the year," Grainger Chief Executive Jim Ryan said in a statement.
The companies have taken a number of measures to curtail costs.While Grainger is on track to cut about 300 to 400 jobs this year, Fastenal has gone slow on store openings and has stopped adding headcount except at store openings and for stores that are growing.
Earlier in February, Grainger had said it would also eliminate pay hikes for all its executives and salaried employees and will not payout incentive bonuses for 2009, unless they meet aggressive sales targets. [ID:nBNG421872] Grainger, which distributes lighting, motors, janitorial supplies to maintain and repair buildings, reported a 16 percent drop in earnings to $96 million, or $1.25 per share, in the first quarter.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.26 per share, beating analysts' average expectation of $1.06 per share, before items, according to Reuters Estimates. Grainger's revenue fell 12 percent to $1.47 billion. U.S. sales declined 10 percent in the first quarter, while sales for the Acklands-Grainger business fell 19 percent.
Fastenal earned $48.7 million, or 33 cents a share, missing analysts' average expectation of 34 cents a share, before items.
Net sales fell 14 percent to $489.3 million.
Fastenal specializes in the distribution of industrial and construction power tools, and equipment to construction, manufacturing and other industrial professionals. (Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D'Silva)