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Staples Inc. Stock Hold Recommendation Reiterated (SPLS)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Staples (Nasdaq:SPLS) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a hold with a ratings score of C. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • SPLS's revenue growth trails the industry average of 26.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.0%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.32, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.71 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • STAPLES INC has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, STAPLES INC swung to a loss, reporting -$0.25 versus $1.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.33 versus -$0.25).
  • The gross profit margin for STAPLES INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 27.80%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.18% trails that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $324.44 million or 32.52% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

Staples, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, operates as an office products company. It operates in three segments: North American Stores & Online, North American Commercial, and International Operations. Staples has a market cap of $8.5 billion and is part of the services sector and specialty retail industry. Shares are up 11.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Staples Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

--Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff.

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