OfficeMax Inc. (OMX), the nation's third biggest office supplies retailer, on Wednesday reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss, reversing a profit in the year-ago period, weighed down by sluggish retail sales and lost revenue from the company's paper and forest products businesses, which it sold last year. Its shares fell 2 percent.

OfficeMax reported a net loss of $3.9 million, or 7 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 24 versus a year-ago profit of $62.2 million, or 64 cents per share. Sales declined 37 percent to $2.29 billion from $3.65 billion a year ago.

The prior-year results include Boise Building Solutions (search) and Boise Paper Solutions segments, comprising OfficeMax's former paper, forest products and timberland assets, which it sold in October last year.

OfficeMax said the quarter's results "underperformed our expectations" due to weakness in its retail segment, where sales edged up less than one percent.

Sales in stores open at least one year — a key performance metric known as same-store sales — were "slightly negative" from last year, hurt by uneven back-to-school sales and sluggish growth in most product categories, OfficeMax said.

Retail operating income declined $10.7 million, due to higher energy prices and employee benefit costs, as well as losses from newly opened stores.

Its shares fell 57 cents to $27.84 on the New York Stock Exchange.

OfficeMax trails only Staples Inc. (SPLS) and Office Depot Inc. (ODP) in the U. S. office supplies retailing business.