Staples misses estimates; sees better sales in Q1

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top U.S. office supplies retailer Staples Inc <SPLS.O> reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as inclement weather in many of its markets kept shoppers away.

"While the fourth quarter was challenging primarily due to the impact of winter storms, sales have recovered in the first quarter of 2011," Chief Executive Officer Ron Sargent said on Wednesday.

Net income rose to $274.7 million, or 38 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended on January 29 from $233.9 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a restructuring expense, Staples earned 39 cents a share, missing the analysts' average estimate of 40 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose about 0.1 percent to $6.42 billion, but missed the analysts' estimate of $6.48 billion.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)