Orlando, Fla.-based-Hughes Supply reported positive comparable growth of 3% for its fiscal third quarter 2004 ended Oct. 31, after 11 quarters of negative comparable branch sales growth. Revenues for the quarter were $859.5 million, up 7% compared with $804.0 million last year. Net income of $17.8 million was about 10% lower than $19.8 million in the prior year's third quarter.

For the nine months ended Oct. 31, sales were $2,457.4 million, up 3.7% vs. $2,368.7 million last year. Net income for the nine months was $48.3 million, down 4.7% from $50.7 million last year.

President/CEO Tom Morgan attributed the strong sales performance to an increase in the number of commercial projects and the dedicated efforts of Hughes' associates. The wholesaler's largest segments, Water & Sewer and Plumbing/HVAC, both posted strong comparable branch sales growth of 5%. Morgan said the highly competitive environment has negatively impacted gross margins and this trend will continue for some time. “As the economy continues to strengthen and markets stabilize, and with the help of various initiatives, such as the Eclipse IT platform and our vendor development programs, we believe our gross margins can improve over time,” he said in a statement.