Staples sales miss Street as Europe, North America pinch

BOSTON, Wed Mar 6, 2013 — Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office supply chain, reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and forecast weak full-year earnings as corporate customers and other shoppers in Europe and North America reduced discretionary spending.

Many investors look at office-supply retailers as a barometer of economic health because demand for their products is closely tied to white-collar employment rates.

As customers increasingly buy office supplies online or at mass merchants, these chains are fighting a battle for relevance. Analysts have called for consolidation as sales crumbled after the recent U.S. recession.

Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. last month decided to combine in a $976 million all-stock deal. The deal is subject to investor and regulatory approval.

Comparable-store sales at Staples’ North American stores fell 5 percent in the fourth quarter, while in Europe it decreased 9 percent, mainly due to fewer customers visiting its stores, the company said.

Staples outlined a plan last year to cut costs by closing stores, but that blueprint did not pass muster with some on Wall Street who were looking for deeper cuts in North America and Europe.

Overall, sales rose 3 percent to $6.56 billion, but missed Wall Street’s average expectation of $6.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Staples profit beats estimates, shares up

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Wed Nov 14, 2012 – Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office supply chain, reported a slightly better than expected quarterly profit, as costs declined and sales in North America held up, although weakness in Europe and Australia hit overall revenue.

Staples shares were up 4 percent at $11.70 in premarket trade. They had fallen by about a 20 percent this year.

Staples’ third-quarter adjusted profit beat estimates by 1 cent per share, although restructuring costs took it to a net loss.

Office supply chains are a good gauge of economic health because demand for their products is closely tied to white-collar employment rates.

Sales at Staples have suffered as corporate customers and other shoppers cut back on discretionary spending in the weak global economy, forcing the chain to keep a tight lid on costs.

But in the latest quarter, Staples reported North American delivery sales rose 1 percent even as retail sales remained flat.

Staples outlined in September plans to close 30 stores in North America and 45 stores in Europe, incurred impairment and restructuring charges of about $840 million in the quarter.

The company posted a net loss of $596.3 million, or 89 cents per share, for the third quarter, compared with a profit of $326.4 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Staples fourth-quarter profit beats Wall Street estimates

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office supply chain, reported a quarterly profit that narrowly beat analysts’ estimates, helped by a slight increase in customer traffic at its North American business.

Smaller rivals Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. also reported better-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter, raising hopes that the office supply sector was stabilizing after years of sales declines.

Staples however expects a slow growth in the U.S. economy and a soft demand environment in Europe in 2012. It expects full-year sales to increase in the low single-digits and full-year diluted earnings per share to increase in the high single-digits.

Net income for the fourth-quarter rose to $283.6 million, or 41 cents a share, from $274.7 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of 40 cents a share, before items, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose to $6.46 billion, while analysts expected about $6.45 billion.

Sales at its North American delivery segment and domestic retail segment, which together account for about 80 percent of the company’s revenue, rose 2 percent to $5.16 billion.

Staples office supply chain tops estimates, raises profit outlook

NEW YORK ― Staples Inc. reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on currency benefits and an uptick in sales to its business customers in North America, prompting the largest U.S. office supply chain to raise its profit outlook.

The news boosted Staples’ shares by 8.3 percent to $15.40 in premarket trading.

Smaller rivals have also shown some improvement on the profit front lately, with Office Depot Inc. reporting a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and OfficeMax Inc. posting better-than-expected earnings.

Many investors look at office supply retailers as a good gauge of the economy, as demand for their products is closely tied to white-collar employment rates. Sales at all three chains have suffered in the weak U.S. economy, and the companies continue to keep a tight rein on costs to offset weak demand.

For the full year, Staples continues to see sales rising at a low-single-digit percentage rate.

Its net income rose to $176.4 million, or 25 cents a share, in the second quarter ended July 30, from $129.8 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a tax refund, it earned 22 cents a share. On that basis, analysts on average were expecting 19 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 5.2 percent to $5.82 billion, while analysts had expected $5.65 billion.

North American Delivery sales for the second quarter were $2.4 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent from the year-ago period. The North American Delivery unit caters mainly to business customers.

Same-store sales, or sales at Staples stores open at least a year, were flat in the second quarter, signaling a soft start to the key back-to-school selling season.