Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS) announced today the results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 28, 2012. Total company sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 increased one percent to $6.5 billion compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2011 increased three percent year over year to $284 million. Diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, increased eight percent to $0.41 from $0.38 achieved in the fourth quarter of 2010, and increased five percent compared to adjusted diluted earnings per share of $0.39 achieved in the fourth quarter of 2010. On a GAAP basis, fourth quarter 2011 operating income rate improved 58 basis points to 7.26 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2010. Excluding the impact of integration and restructuring expense in the prior year period, fourth quarter 2011 operating income rate improved 48 basis points. This increase primarily reflects reduced incentive compensation and lower depreciation expense. “During 2011 Staples celebrated its 25th anniversary with $25 billion in total company sales,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We drove strong earnings growth, generated more than $1 billion of free cash flow for the fourth consecutive year, and have solid plans in place to build on our momentum in 2012.” For the full year 2011, total company sales increased two percent to $25.0 billion compared to the full year 2010. Net income increased 12 percent year over year to $985 million, and diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, increased 16 percent to $1.40 from the $1.21 achieved last year. Adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.37 for the full year 2011 increased eight percent compared to adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.27 achieved in 2010. These adjusted results exclude a $21 million cash tax refund, or $0.03 per diluted share, during the second quarter of 2011 and pre-tax integration and restructuring expense of $58 million, or $0.06 per diluted share net of tax, during the full year 2010.