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Earnings Preview: Staples to report 4th quarter

By ASHLEY M. HEHER

CHICAGO (AP) ¿ Staples is scheduled to report results for the fourth quarter on Wednesday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.

OVERVIEW: Staples Inc., the world's largest office products retailer, has seen its sales its increase due to last year's acquisition of the Netherlands-based Corporate Express NV. But excluding those gains, Staples' income slumped through the first three quarters of 2008.

During the fourth quarter, Framingham, Mass.-based Staples said it priced an offering of $1.5 billion senior notes due 2014 at a 9.75 percent coupon.

Staples was selling the debt to repay part of its outstanding commercial paper loans, its 2008 credit agreement and a revolving credit facility. Staples expects the offering will generate about $1.49 billion in proceeds after the underwriting discount.

In December, Staples voluntarily reduced its existing credit agreement to $2.75 billion from $3 billion.

BY THE NUMBERS: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predict a profit of 42 cents per share on revenue of $6.85 billion for the quarter.

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