The worst for OfficeMax (OMX) could be over.
Moody's Investors Service upgraded its outlook on the company last week to stable from negative and affirmed its "B1" corporate family and probability of default ratings. The ratings agency said the change in outlook is due to expectations that OfficeMax' operating performance is likely to improve under management's new strategic plan.
OfficeMax has been cutting the fat, announcing plans last month to shutter 20 more stores this year and close 15 to 20 locations each year for the next few years. It is also looking to divest its wholesale business in New Zealand."CEO is building a new management team and implementing multiple initiatives such as cutting square-footage, restructuring international operations, using more sophisticated analytics to negotiate contracts, expanding services, and enhancing e-commerce - that will help earnings in [the fourth quarter] and into 2012," Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser wrote following the company's third-quarter earnings report. "The company is trading like it's going out of business, but it's not going anywhere." During the third quarter, OfficeMax's earnings rose nearly 8% to $21.5 million, or 25 cents per share, topping Wall Street's forecast. But revenue slide 2.2% to$1.77 billion, below analysts' estimates of $1.81 billion. Looking ahead, OfficeMax foresees fourth-quarter sales to be slightly higher from last year. Shares of OfficeMax tumbled 73% for the year-to-date period.
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