Earnings slip at Staples in Q4

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Staples reported that total company sales for the fourth quarter were $6.6 billion, an increase of 3% over the same period last year.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported fourth quarter 2012 net income of $90 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with net income of $284 million, or 41 cents per diluted share, achieved in the fourth quarter of 2011. 

“During the fourth quarter we did a great job managing expenses in a challenging sales environment,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re making progress toward our new vision: Every product your business needs to succeed.”

For the full year 2012, total company sales decreased 1% to $24.4 billion compared with full year 2011. Excluding the favorable impact of the extra week in 2012, total company sales decreased 3% to $23.9 billion versus the prior year.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported a net loss of $161 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with net income of $988 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, achieved in 2011. 

North American retail and online sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $3.3 billion, an increase of three percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. This primarily reflects $221 million of sales during the extra week in 2012. Growth in tablets, e-readers, facilities and breakroom supplies, and copy and print services was partially offset by lower sales of computers, digital cameras, and software. Excluding the extra week of sales in 2012, fourth quarter sales decreased 4% versus the prior year. Comparable-store sales, which exclude sales in Staples.com, decreased 5%, reflecting a five% decline in traffic, and flat average order size versus the prior year. Staples.com sales grew 7% during the fourth quarter of 2012. Excluding the extra week in 2012, Staples.com sales declined one percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, the company closed 32 stores and opened one store in the U.S. and closed one store and opened one store in Canada.

For the full year 2012, North American Stores and Online achieved sales of $11.8 billion, an increase of 1% compared with 2011. Excluding the extra week of sales in 2012, full year 2012 sales decreased 1%compared to 2011. Comparable-store sales decreased 2% versus the prior year. Staples.com sales grew 5% versus the prior year, and increased 3% excluding the extra week in 2012.

In 2012, the company closed 45 stores and opened nine stores in the United States., and opened eight stores and closed three stores in Canada ending the year with 1,886 stores in North America.