Market Punishing Staples After the Office Supplies Company Reports Steep Q1 Profit Decline

Staples shares were down about 10% as of 10 a.m. after the company reported fiscal 2014 first-quarter earnings before the opening bell today that included declines in both profit and sales in the quarter.

For the period ended May 3, Staples profit declined 42% to $0.15 per diluted share, down from generally accepted accounting principles EPS of $0.26 during the same period a year ago. This missed Wall Street estimates by a landslide, as analysts were looking for earnings of $0.21 per share.

The office supplies retailer posted revenue of $5.65 billion, down 3% from the year-ago period. For comparison, Wall Street analysts were expecting first-quarter revenue of $5.62 billion. The office supplies chain incurred $46 million in one-time charges related to 16 store closures in the quarter. However, investors should brace for similar fees in the quarters to come because Staples plans to close 80 additional stores during the second quarter.

In March Staples said that it wanted to close more than 10% of its North American stores by the end of next year, up to 225 stores, as part of a plan to save about $500 million.

In the most recent quarter, Staples saw a drop in sales for business machines, core office supplies and ink and toner, but that was balanced partially by growth in breakroom supplies and copy and print sales. Comparable-store sales, which exclude sales in, decreased 4% in the North American unit, which the company said reflected a 4% decline in traffic and flat average order size versus the prior year.

"Despite a slow start to the first quarter, our results were in line with our expectations and we expect to build momentum throughout 2014," said Ron Sargent, Staples' chief executive, in the company press release. Investors ahd pushed shares of Staples down more than 10% to $11.94 as of 9:55 a.m. on this news.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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