Revenue for the fourth quarter was $3.49 billion, well off the $4.09 billion estimate of analysts. The company -- reporting its first quarterly results since Office Depot completed its acquisition of OfficeMax in November -- posted a loss of 3 cents a share, compared with analysts' estimates of earnings of 3 cents a share. Shares fell 9% on the news, not a great start for the country's No. 2 office-supply retailer behind Staples (SPLS).
It makes me wonder what the office-supply business would look like if the Federal Trade Commission had allowed Office Depot and Staples to merge, as they had intended to, back in 1997.
That the FTC blocked that move was quite comical, especially given the explanation by the director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, William J. Baer, who said at the time, "The FTC's decision to ask a court to block the merger is about lower prices for consumers. If the merger is allowed to proceed, consumers will pay millions of dollars more for their copy paper, envelopes, pens and file folders."
That statement sounded funny to me in 1997 and is even funnier now as technology and the Internet have upended the retail and printing-services businesses.
The question is, can the new Office Depot make a go of it or were the fourth-quarter results a sign of things to come?