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United Stationers Reports Increased Sales And Earnings Per Share For Third Quarter 2011

United Stationers Inc. (NASDAQ: USTR), a leading North American wholesale distributor of business products, today reported third quarter 2011 sales up 3.1% and adjusted earnings per share up 13% (1).

Third Quarter Financial Highlights

  • Net sales in the third quarter were $1.3 billion, up 3.1% from the prior-year quarter.
  • Diluted earnings per share were $0.81, compared with $0.77 in the prior-year quarter. The third quarter 2010 results included a favorable $0.05 per share for a $3.3 million non-cash pre-tax reversal of liabilities resulting from the termination of a post-retirement medical plan. After excluding this item from the prior year, diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of 2011 were up 13% (1), compared with an adjusted $0.72 (1) a year ago.
  • Gross margin in the third quarter of 2011 was up $4.9 million to $199.8 million, or 15.3% of sales, compared with $194.9 million, or 15.3% of sales, in last year’s third quarter.
  • Operating expenses in the quarter were $135.1 million, or 10.3% of sales, compared with $129.3 million, or 10.2% of sales in the prior-year quarter. Operating expenses as a percentage of sales in the third quarter of 2011 were favorable by 12 basis points compared with 10.4% (1) in the same period last year after excluding the medical plan adjustment mentioned above.
  • Operating income in the quarter was $64.6 million, or 4.9% of sales, compared with $65.5 million, or 5.2% of sales, in the year-ago quarter. Operating income in the 2011 quarter was up $2.4 million and operating margin was flat at 4.9%, compared with the prior-year quarter after adjusting for the medical plan adjustment mentioned above.
  • Net income was $35.8 million in 2011, compared with $36.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Third quarter 2011 net income was up $1.4 million (1), compared with the adjusted prior-year quarter of $34.4 million (1).
  • Year-to-date net cash provided by operating activities totaled $99.5 million versus $114.4 million last year.
  • Cash paid for share repurchases for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, totaled $137.7 million for 4.3 million shares. As of September 30, 2011, the company had $50 million remaining under its board of directors approved common stock repurchase program. On October 19, 2011, the board of directors approved a $0.13 per share dividend to shareholders of record on December 15, 2011 and payable on January 13, 2012.
  • In September 2011, the company closed a five-year $700 million Revolving Credit Facility.

“Our growth and customer initiatives continue to drive positive results, particularly in our janitorial/breakroom and industrial categories, in an economy that still does not have many bright spots,” said Cody Phipps, president and chief executive officer. “We are keeping a sharp focus on margins, operating costs and capital deployment to ensure a strong financial position in the current environment. At the same time, we continue to invest in the future, creating attractive long-term opportunities for the business.”

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