Office Depot Earnings Drop for Q4, Year

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Office Depot Inc., Delray Beach, FL, announced a drop in net earnings for its fourth quarter and year-end results for the fiscal periods ended Dec. 27.


Net earnings in the quarter totaled $45.8 million compared with the prior year's $62.88 million. Included in net income were charges of $32.4 million in the quarter to adjust lease-termination costs related to stores closed in prior periods, and to account for the sale or write-down of certain Internet investments, the company said.


Net earnings last year were $276.3 million compared with $310.71 million in 2002.


Sales in the fourth quarter were $3.25 billion, up from $2.84 billion in fourth-quarter 2002. Worldwide comparable sales in the 912 stores and 37 delivery centers that have been open for more than a year fell 2 percent in the quarter while worldwide e-commerce sales grew 31 percent.


Sales for fiscal 2003 grew to $12.36 billion from $11.36 billion in fiscal 2002. Worldwide comparable sales dropped 2 percent for the year while worldwide e-commerce sales were up 25 percent to $2.6 billion for fiscal 2003.


The International Division produced sales of $895.3 million in the fourth quarter compared with $449.7 million in the prior-year period while annual sales were $2.75 billion, up from $1.64 billion for 2002.


Sales in the North American Business Services Group increased in the quarter from 2002's $963.6 million to $966.8 million, and they rose from $3.91 billion to $3.97 billion for the year. Domestic e-commerce sales increased 11 percent in the quarter and 15 percent for the year.


North American retail sales dropped in the fourth quarter from last year's $1.43 billion to $1.39 billion, and from $5.8 billion to $5.65 billion in the year. Comparable-store sales in the 870 stores in North America that have been open for more than a year fell 4 percent in both the fourth quarter and full year.


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