Staples Q4 Sales, Earnings Slip Even As It Beats Analyst Estimate

For the fourth quarter ended January 31, Staples, Inc. posted a net loss of $260 million, or 41 cents per diluted share, versus a net income of $212 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. Fourth quarter 2014 result include $410 million in pre-tax charges for the impairment of goodwill in the company’s Australia, China, and South America businesses, as well as $74 million of pre-tax restructuring and other charges, the company announced.

Excluding the impact of charges, fourth quarter 2014 non-GAAP net income was $198 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, Staples stated. Diluted earnings per share beat an average analyst estimate by a penny, Reuters pointed out.

Total company fourth quarter sales were $5.7 billion, down 4% compared to the 2013 period, Staples reported. Excluding the impact of store closures in North America and changes in foreign exchange rates, total company sales grew 1% during the fourth quarter, year over year, the company asserted.

Operating income came in as a $197 million loss in the fourth quarter versus a $338 million gain in the year-ago period, and adjusted operating income was $287 million compared with $338 million in the year-earlier period, Staples noted.

For the full year, net income was $135 million, or 21 cents per diluted share, versus $707 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, or, on an adjusted basis, $623 million, or 96 cents per diluted share, versus $761 million, or $1.16 per diluted share, in the year prior, the company maintained. Total sales slipped from $22.5 billion to $23.1 billion. Operating income was $310 million versus $1.18 billion in the year prior, and adjusted operating income was $959 million compared with $1.24 billion in the year earlier.

In North America and online, fourth quarter sales were $2.7 billion versus $2.9 billion in the period a year earlier as comparable store sales slipped 1%, with bricks and mortars comps down 4% but total growth online up 9%, Staples related. Operating income in the division was $135 million versus $176 million in the year-prior period.