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Staples sees loss ahead of Office Depot merger

Staples slid to a loss in the fourth quarter as the company booked restructuring charges ahead of a huge merger and the strong dollar pressured sales, but it topped Wall Street’s expectations for net income and shares rose in premarket trading Friday.¬†Staples, the nation’s largest big box office supply chain, announced last month that it would spend about $6 billion to buy rival Office Depot. It closed 169 stores in North America last year and plans to close a total of 225 locations by the end of 2015 as it ties up with Office Depot. For the period ended Jan. 31, Staples lost $260.4 million, or 41 cents per share. A year earlier it earned $212.4 million, or 33 cents per share.635612252712420799-AP-STAPLES-OFFICE-DEPOT-70558532

Staples said Friday that the current quarter included $410 million in impairment charges related to its Australia, China and South America businesses. The period also included $74 million in restructuring and other charges. Excluding the charges and other items, per-share earnings were 31 cents. That’s a penny better than industry analysts had projected for the quarter, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

The Framingham, Massachusetts, company posted revenue of $5.66 billion, which fell short of Wall Street forecasts. Analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.75 billion. The strong dollar negatively impacted sales by about 2 percent during the quarter, the company said Friday. Quarterly sales grew one percent excluding the impact of store closings over the past year and the strong dollar.

For the year, Staples Inc. had a profit of $134.5 million, or 21 cents per share. Its adjusted earnings from continuing operations were 96 cents per share. Revenue was reported as $22.49 billion. The company expects adjusted earnings in a range of 16 to 18 cents per share during the first quarter of this year. Analysts polled by FactSet predict earnings of 17 cents per share. The company said it also anticipates sales to decline when compared with the prior-year period.