Updated from 9:26 a.m. EDT.

Office supplier OfficeMax ( OMX) reported a sharp decrease in first-quarter profit today and warned investors that sales would continue to fall throughout the year.

Results, though, still beat Wall Street's expectations, sending shares soaring 23% to $7.38 in afternoon trading, reaching a four-month high.

Earnings during the quarter plunged a whopping 79% to $13.1 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $62.4 million, or 81 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, the company earned 23 cents a share, beating analysts' expectations of 16 cents.

Sales fell 17% to $1.91 billion.

While the company did not offer guidance, it remains cautious going forward.

An analyst at J.P. Morgan said in a report this morning, "the company continues to maintain ample liquidity that should allow it to weather the economic storm so far as there is not another significant leg down and 2010 is better than 2009."

Earlier this week Office Depot ( ODP) surprised investors, posting a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter. The office supplier reported a loss of $55 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with a profit $69 million, or 25 cents, last year.
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