Staples Posts Record Results

Updated from 8:40 a.m. EST

Staples ( SPLS) reported record fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Thursday and said it would pay its first-ever stock dividend.

The Boston-based office-supply giant had a profit of $211.9 million, or 42 cents a share, vs. $164.6 million, or 35 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The consensus estimate of analysts was 41 cents a share, according to Thomson One Analytics.

Shares were recently down 35 cents, or 1.3%, to $26.70.

For the quarter ending Jan. 31, revenue rose 10% to $3.68 billion, while North American same-store sales rose 4% during the period.

The company said it will pay an annual cash dividend of 20 cents a share on May 17, to owners of its common stock of record on April 26.

Staples said it still expects earnings per share to grow 20% in both the first quarter and fiscal year 2004. Revenue is expected to increase about 10%, while North American same-store sales are expected to post low-single-digit growth.

The company plans to open 115 new stores this year.

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