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Yesterday, Sherwin-Williams (SHW) -- a company I've recently profiled -- raised its earnings expectations for the first quarter of 2006. Analysts had been expecting earnings per share of $0.59 for the first quarter; on January 26th, the company said it expected to earn between $0.56 and $0.61 per share in the first quarter.

Sherwin-Williams now expects the EPS number to be between $0.75 and $0.79. Net sales are projected to grow by 13-14% over sales for the first quarter of 2005. The previous projection had been for sales growth to come in around 10%.

The earnings update is primarily the result of better than expected sales in the company’s paint stores. Expense control has also been better than expected. As a result, SHW’s gross margin will exceed previous estimates.

Sherwin-Williams will report its first quarter earnings on April 20th.

SHW 1-yr chart:

Source: Sherwin-Williams Raises Guidance (SHW)