NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The last episode of the very successful TV sitcom "The Office" airs Thursday night. All its loyal fans, most of whom are women, according to the television rating services, are feeling the loss.The last time I was in a Staples ( SPLS) store in my area the majority of the shoppers were women. I asked some of them why they liked to shop there instead of ordering online. One lady shopping for a new computer mouse said she goes to the store for certain products she wants to see, feel and inspect before buying. She knows Staples has an online presence but the bricks-and-mortar stores are staffed with friendly and helpful personnel. Another woman shopping there had first gone to its in-store printing facility to make some copies and ship a package via UPS ( UPS) because Staples has an agreement with UPS as a drop-off location. While there she likes to browse the aisles to examine the plethora of products and, as she put it, "remind myself of the items I need for my home office." She liked the ambiance; if she had questions, the sales personnel were standing by to assist her. That was important, from her perspective.
No wonder SPLS has survived and, for the most part thrived, since the beginning of the Great Recession that slammed down on commerce and industry. Take a peek at the company's five-year price chart along with one key financial figure that tells us about the main factor behind SPLS's price swings. SPLS data by YCharts
After shares of SPLS plunged to below $15 in late 2008 and early 2009 they changed direction and soared 67% in early 2010 on the wings of economic stimuli and renewed consumer confidence. Since then SPLS has gradually cratered to the recent 52-week low of $10.57 in the second half of 2012. Then the latest round of the Federal Reserve's "QE4-EVER" kicked in and since the beginning of 2013 it moved up nearly 40% to the May 8 high of $14.27. As you'll notice above, sales growth and rising revenue have helped propel the stock, and if it meets or beats expectations on May 22 it may rise still higher.
In reading Sargent's annual letter he spells out four specific strategies and "...changes to accelerate growth, reshape our business, and better meet the needs of our customers." He spells them out in detail in the annual report. Staple's customer base is one of its biggest advantages. SPLS claims to have 10 million business customers who trust the Staples brand. Sargent is overseeing a "rigorous cost reduction analysis" that includes a plan to achieve $250 million in annual pre-tax savings by 2015. SPLS is a world-class company that is the world's largest office products company and second-largest internet retailer. That's why I call it "The Queen of the Office Products Business," with dominating operations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The company is headquartered outside Boston and has been in business for over 26 years. With its well-organized retail, online and delivery capabilities, Staples can offer office supplies, technology products and services, facilities and break-room supplies, furniture, copy and print services and a wide range of other product categories.