MAE ANDERSON

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Office supply chain Staples Inc.'s sales fell less in the second quarter than earlier this year, but the company said Tuesday that its profit dropped 39 percent, mainly because of its acquisition of Dutch chain Corporate Express.

Sales at Staples stores open at least a year, a key industry metric known as same-store sales, fell 5 percent in the second quarter as average order size fell. The chain's same-store sales fell 8 percent the previous quarter.

"We are feeling like maybe the economy is coming back a bit," CEO Ronald Sargent said. "We have seen sequential improvement now for the last ... three or four quarters. And I think we think that's a good indicator of the future health of our business."

The Framingham, Mass.-based chain's sales rose 9 percent to $5.53 billion from $5.07 billion, partly helped by the acquisition, but that was slightly below Wall Street's forecast of $5.55 billion in revenue.

Staples said sales of big-ticket items such as business machines and furniture slowed, but that was partially offset by increased sales of computers, ink and paper.

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