In addition, during the conference call, we refer to certain non-GAAP or adjusted financial measures. A reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, as well as our press release and accompanying webcast slides for today's call are available on our website at www.officedepot.com. Click on Investor Relations under Company Information.Neil Austrian will now summarize Office Depot's third quarter 2011 results. Neil? Neil R. Austrian Thank you, Brian and good morning. Office Depot's third quarter 2011 sales totaled $2.8 billion, down 2% compared to our third quarter results in 2010. Excluding sales related to previous portfolio actions, constant currency sales in the third quarter of 2011 decreased about 3% versus prior year. The company reported net earnings after preferred stock dividends of $92 million or $0.28 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2011 versus $32 million or $0.12 per share in the same period one year ago. Third quarter 2011 results included approximately $6 million of charges, primarily related to restructuring activities and actions to improve future operating performance, as well as the benefit from the reversal of $99 million of combined tax and interest accruals that we had mentioned in our second quarter earnings webcast. Excluding these charges and benefits, the net loss after preferred stock dividends would have been about $700,000 or $0.00 per share. I should note that our third quarter 2010 reported earnings also included significant tax and interest expense benefits that positively impacted earnings by about $0.14 per share. Total company gross profit margin increased about 150 basis points in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the prior year. This was the sixth quarter out of the past 7, that we have increased total company gross margins year-over-year. The gross margin improvement this quarter was driven primarily by increases of 240 basis points in North American Retail and 110 basis points in North American Business Solutions. The International division's gross profit margin increased about 30 basis points during the third quarter of 2011.
Total company operating expenses adjusted for charges, foreign exchange, acquisitions and dispositions decreased by $1 million compared to the third quarter of 2010. September year-to-date operating expenses adjusted for charges, foreign exchange, acquisitions and dispositions decreased by $20 million compared to prior year. EBIT adjusted for charges was $30 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $20 million in the prior period. The significant year-over-year improvement was attributable to strong results in both North American Retail and Business Solutions.I'm pleased with the traction we are getting in our North American business despite a lackluster U.S. economy. The successful execution of our key business initiatives is beginning to move the needle. Although the international team is also making progress executing its key initiatives, third quarter results were weaker than expected and I'll review them later in the call. I'll now ask Kevin to review our third quarter 2011 performance in North America. Kevin Peters Thanks, Neil and good morning. In the North American Retail division, third quarter sales were $1.2 billion, down 4% from the prior year. Comparable store sales in the 1,108 stores that have been opened for more than one year decreased 2% for the third quarter 2011. The declining comparable sales of computers and related products contributed significantly to the overall sales decline. This decline was partially offset by a strong performance in supplies, which comp positively for the first time since 2006. If we exclude the weak technology sales in the third quarter, North American Retail's comparable store sales would've been slightly positive, as sales increases were also reported in Back-to-School essentials, Tech Depot Services and Copy & Print Depot. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com