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Staples 4Q Profit Rises


Boston, Staples Inc. on Thursday said its fourth-quarter profit grew nearly 22% on strong sales gains for the office-products supplier's delivery business and international operations. Results at Staples also were boosted because the quarter, ended Feb. 3, included 14 weeks rather than the usual 13 weeks. Staples also announced that it was increasing its annual cash dividend to 29? per share, up 32% from the previous year's dividend.

Net income rose to $336.5 million from $276.7 million in the comparable period a year earlier. Sales grew 18% to $5.29 billion from $4.46 billion in the previous year's fourth quarter, but rose at a more modest 10% not counting $370 million in sales in the latest quarter's additional week.

Comp-store sales at North American stores increased just 1% compared with the previous year's final quarter, based on sales running through 13 weeks of both comparison quarters, and 5% in Europe.

Staples' North American delivery business posted a sales gain of 14% on a 13-week comparison basis, and international sales were up 11% in local currency and 22% in U.S. dollars.

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