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Office Depot Swings To Q4 Profit


Office products supplier Office Depot, Inc. (ODP) reported Tuesday a profit for the fourth quarter, compared to a loss last year, as the company did not repeat charges that hit last year's results. Adjusted earnings per share topped analysts' expectations on improved margins, while quarterly revenues missed their estimates by a whisker.

"Fourth quarter 2011 results were encouraging despite a slow economic recovery in the U.S. and increasing business pressures across Europe. I'm pleased with both the traction we're getting in improving our North American businesses and the restructuring actions being taken in the International Division," Chairman and CEO Neil Austrian said in a statement.

The Boca Raton, Florida-based company reported net earnings of $12.28 million or $0.04 per share for the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $108.63 million or $0.39 per share in the prior-year quarter.

The year-ago quarter's results included $0.29 per share negative impact from charges related to restructuring actions, asset impairment and asset sales.

Excluding such one-time items, adjusted net income for the quarter was $8.5 million or $0.03 per share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $27.7 million or $0.10 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 17 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report breakeven per share results for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Total company sales for the quarter edged up to $2.97 billion from $2.96 billion in the same quarter last year, but missed fourteen Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $3.00 billion by a whisker.

North American retail division sales remained flat with last year at $1.24 billion, while comparable store sales in 1,107 stores in the U.S. and Canada decreased 5 percent. The International division reported a 3 percent decline in sales to $901.4 million, with no currency impact.

However, gross profit margin for the quarter expanded 170 basis points to 30.3 percent from last year's 28.6 percent.

Full year 2011 sales were $11.5 billion, a decrease of 1 percent from the prior year. The company reported an adjusted net loss of $8 million or $0.03 per share, narrower than $39 million or $0.14 per share in 2010.

ODP closed Monday's regular trading session at $3.02, up $0.05 on a volume of 5.34 million shares, lower than the three-month average volume of 4.05 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $1.75 to $5.54.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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