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Staples 4Q Profit Drops On Charges, But Sales Rise

By ASHLEY M. HEHER

CHICAGO (AP) ¿ Staples Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit dropped 14 percent as a series of charges related to last summer's acquisition of a Dutch rival dragged down results.

The world's largest office products retailer reported sales and adjusted earnings below Wall Street expectations, sending its shares down in pre-market trading.

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based retailer said it earned $286 million, or 40 cents per share, during the three months ended Jan. 31. That's down from $333.2 million, or 47 cents per share, during the same period a year before.

Besides charges linked to July's acquisition of Corporate Express NV, Staples reversed a $57 million non-cash charge recorded in the third quarter. Excluding those items, the company's adjusted profit was $256 million, or 36 cents per share.

Sales climbed 16 percent to $6.17 billion from $5.32 billion, helped by the addition of Corporate Express.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted earnings of 42 cents per share on revenue of $6.82 billion. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time items.

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