Strong N. American Sales Boost Staples Profit

Staples Inc. (SPLS), the leading U.S. office supply retailer, Tuesday posted a 27 percent rise in quarterly profit on strong performance by its stores in North America.

The results topped Wall Street expectations, and the company forecast earnings per share (search) for the full fiscal year at the top end of its previous estimate. The company's stock rose more than 5 percent following the release of the news.

Net income rose to $159.4 million, or 21 cents per share, in the fiscal first quarter ended April 30, up from $125.7 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales rose to $3.90 billion from $3.45 billion.

Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 20 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales at stores in North America open for at least a year rose 4 percent. International same-store sales were flat.

The company forecast earnings-per-share growth of 18 percent and revenue growth in the low double digits for its fiscal second quarter.

For the full year, it said it expects earnings-per-share growth at the high end of its previous forecast for growth of 15 percent to 18 percent. It forecast full-year revenue growth in the low double digits.

"The continued strength of our North American businesses provides us with the flexibility to invest in the many ideas that will sustain our growth in the years to come," Chairman and Chief Executive Ron Sargent said in a statement.

The outlook excludes the effects of the expensing of stock options (search), a practice the company said it does not expect to implement until the first quarter of 2006.

Shares of Staples rose $1.18 to $21.72 on Nasdaq.