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Staples profit falls on lower sales as it awaits the FTC decision on Office Depot buyout


NEW YORK — Staples Inc.'s profit fell 8.8 percent during the third quarter on a continued decline in sales as the office supplies retailer awaits a key regulatory decision on its planned buyout of rival Office Depot Inc.

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company's profit fell to $198 million, or 31 cents per share, in the three months ended Oct. 31. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 35 cents per share.

The results matched Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 35 cents per share.

Staples posted a 6.2 percent drop in revenue to $5.59 billion in the period, which fell short of Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.67 billion.

Staples Inc. is trying to buy one-time rival Office Depot for $6.3 billion. The deal, announced in February, is part of a rapid consolidation in the office supply sector that has been hammered by technological changes in the workplace and by competition from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the deal and will make a decision on it by Dec. 8. If the deal is allowed to proceed, it would whittle down the office supply sector to one major player. Staples expects to shutter 225 stores by the end of the year and Office Depot says it will close up to 135 stores.

Office Depot Inc. shareholders approved the buyout in June. Regulators in Australia, New Zealand and China have already cleared the deal.

For the current quarter ending in January, Staples expects its per-share earnings to range from 26 cents to 30 cents, which marks a decline from the same period a year prior.

Staples shares fell 13 cents, or 1 percent, to $12.32 in premarket trading about three hours before the market open. They have fallen 31 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has stayed nearly flat. The stock has fallen 4 percent in the last 12 months.


Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on SPLS at http://www.zacks.com/ap/SPLS


Keywords: Staples, Earnings Report

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