It was a third quarter for the record books at office supply giant




In the quarter ended Nov. 1, profits rose 29% to $165.8 million, or 33 cents a share, on revenue of $3.5 billion. That's a penny better than analysts' estimates, according to Thomson First Call, and it compares with $128.1 million, or 27 cents, on sales of $3.1 billion a year ago.

North American same-store sales rose 4%, driven by furniture, business machines, services and a "healthy back-to-school season." Overall sales in Europe rose 56%. Staples also said it had generated $424 million in free cash flow so far this year and record operating margins of 7.66% in its third quarter.

For the current quarter, the Massachusetts-based company said it is "comfortable" with the consensus forecast of 41 cents a share and predicted low double-digit sales growth and earnings-per-share growth of 20%.

Shares closed at $25 on Monday and are down from a nearly four-year high of $27.36 earlier this month.