Tractor Supply reported a first-quarter profit of $40.3 million, more than double its year-ago number, as sales rose 22 percent. Per diluted share, earnings were 55 cents, which is at the high end of the range officials gave when pre-announcing results two weeks ago .
Sales for the quarter came in at a little more than $1 billion, up 22 percent from early 2011. But gross margins fell slightly  to 32.6 percent, primarily because of the early arrival of spring, which required the marking down of winter merchandise.
Shares of Tractor Supply (Ticker: TSCO ) rose slightly in after-hours trading to $97.49. Year to date, they’re up almost 40 percent.
Noranda Aluminum reported first-quarter profits of $12.7 million, excluding special items, which was down more than 40 percent from a year ago but better than analysts had expected. Sales fell 10 percent  to $354 million.
The company’s average price per pound fell to $1.05 from $1.18 in early 2011 — concerns about economic growth in various parts of the world are to blame — while its net cash cost per pound rose to 78 cents from 66 cents. Officials did say, however, that the inflation picture for their raw materials improved a bit early this year.
Shares of Noranda (Ticker: NOR ) rose more than 6 percent Wednesday to $10.59. Year to date, the stock is up almost 30 percent.
Caterpillar Financial Services said its first-quarter earnings climbed 45 percent from a year ago to $120 million. Revenues rose 4 percent  to $668 million. The West End-based specialty lender got its biggest bottom-line boost from a $36 million drop in its loss provision. Past-due loans were 3.19 percent of its total on March 31, down from 3.94 percent a year ago.
New financings during the quarter climbed 11 percent to $3.1 billion, with only North American activity falling slightly.