Staples ( SPLS), the world's largest office products retailer, said fourth-quarter net income fell 14% to $286 million, or 40 cents a share, from $333.2 million, or 47 cents a share, a year earlier as the company completed what it called the "most challenging" year in its history.

Total sales in the fourth quarter rose 16% to $6.2 billion from $5.3 billion a year earlier.

Excluding the impact of Corporate Express, which was acquired in 2008, total company sales for the fourth quarter fell 14% to $4.6 billion, or 10% in local currency.

Adjusted fourth-quarter earnings, which exclude charges related to the acquisition of Corporate Express, were $256 million, or 36 cents a share. Staples also reversed a $57 million non-cash charge it recorded in the third quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a profit of 42 cents a share on fourth-quarter revenue of $6.82 billion.

Staples said it expects the weak economic climate to continue throughout 2009. Because of limited near-term visibility, the company isn't providing sales or earnings guidance.

If you liked this article you might like

Stop the Insanity Amazon Will Not Be Buying Target

Stop the Insanity Amazon Will Not Be Buying Target

Oil Prices, IBM and Cisco - 5 Things You Must Know Before the Market Opens

Oil Prices, IBM and Cisco - 5 Things You Must Know Before the Market Opens

Retail Sales and Walmart Earnings to Paint Picture of Consumer in Week Ahead

Retail Sales and Walmart Earnings to Paint Picture of Consumer in Week Ahead

Staples Announces Black Friday, Holiday Shopping Deals

Staples Announces Black Friday, Holiday Shopping Deals

Color These 2 Stocks Black Friday

Color These 2 Stocks Black Friday