Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

Sales shrink at slowest rate in six quarters

May 18, 2016

Staples Inc spls , which aborted its bid for Office Depot Inc last week, reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales as demand recovered in its business that sells office supplies to companies in North America.

Sales in its North America commercial business rose 0.4 percent to $2.12 billion in the first quarter, helped by demand for promotional products and breakroom supplies. Total sales fell 3 percent to $5.10 billion, roughly in line with estimates, but that decline was the smallest in six quarters.

Staples made a second attempt last year to buy smaller rival Office Depot, but the deal was blocked by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It subsequently said it would invest more in building up its presence as a supplier to small and medium-sized businesses, and scale back operations abroad, notably in Europe.

The company’s net income fell 31 percent to $41 million, or 6 cents per share, in the quarter ended April 30, hurt by charges related to restructuring and store closures. Total operating costs fell 8.3 percent to $1.15 billion.

Excluding exceptional items, the company earned 17 cents a share, beating the average analyst estimate of 16 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Staples’ shares rose 1.5 percent to $8.40 in light premarket trading.

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