Staples 4Q Sales Weaken as Net Falls 72%

Staples’ (NASDAQ:SPLS) fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 72% on restructuring charges, while sales weakened in the U.S. and abroad.

The office-supply retailer said on Wednesday its profit for the quarter was $78.1 million, or 12 cents a share, well down from $283.6 million and 41 cents a share in the year-earlier period. The company recorded $181 million of pretax charges related to store closures in the U.S. and Europe, as well as other items.

Excluding one-time items, Staples posted earnings of 46 cents a share.

Sales ticked up 3% to $6.57 billion, but fell 4.2% discounting an extra week in this year’s period.

Analysts projected per-share earnings of 45 cents and revenue of $6.72 billion.

Same-store sales fell 5% amid lower store traffic, a wider decline than the prior quarter’s 1% drop. Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX), two office-supply rivals that plan on merging, reported 6% and 4% declines, respectively, in comparable store sales.

International sales continued to slide, falling 12% excluding the extra week.

Overall operating expenses jumped 12%, including $176.6 million in integration and restructuring costs.

Office Depot and OfficeMax said their combined company would have $18 billion in annual sales. Staples’ fiscal 2012 sales totaled $24.38 billion.

For the full year, Staples said it expects per-share earnings from continuing operations of $1.30 to $1.35, below Wall Street’s view, and sales to post a percentage increase in the low single-digits compared to 2012. Analysts are anticipating an adjusted per-share profit of $1.43 and sales growth of 2%.

The company also announced on Wednesday an increase of one penny in its quarterly cash dividend, now at 12 cents.

Shares of Staples fell 3.54% to $12.82 in pre-market trading. The stock is down 13.4% over the last 12 months.