Staples released its fourth quarter earnings report before opening bell this morning, posting adjusted earnings of 26 cents per share and sales of $5.23 billion. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 28 cents per share and revenue of $5.4 billion. In the year-ago quarter the office supply retailer posted adjusted earnings of 31 cents per share and sales of $5.66 billion.

Staples, Inc. Misses Earnings Estimates

Staples’ comparable store sales fall

Net earnings were 13 cents per share, a significant improvement from the year-ago quarter’s 41 cents per share in losses. Total sales fell 2% year over year, excluding impacts from store closures in North America and currency exchange rates.

North American comparable sales fell 4% and comparable store sales fell 5% year over year. Total sales for the region fell 9% to $2.4 billion. The North American Commercial segment saw sales fall 1.4% year over year to $2 billion, a 1% decline in U.S. dollars or flat in local currencies. Sales of facilities supplies, breakroom supplies and promotional products partially offset declines in ink and toner, business machines and furniture.

Staples’ international operations saw sales fall 12% to $791 million in U.S. dollars or 1% in local currencies. The office supply retailer saw double digit sales growth in China, but sales declines in Europe more than offset that growth.

“In 2015, our top priority was to stabilize total company sales and earnings after a few years of heavy investment to transform Staples,” Staples Chairman and CEO Ron Sargent said in a statement. “While our Q4 results came in at the lower end of our expectations, we continued to make good progress on many of our key initiatives, and we have a solid plan to get back to earnings growth in 2016.”

Staples releases guidance

Staples expects to see adjusted earnings of 16 cents to 18 cents per share for the first quarter, which is right in line with the consensus of 17 cents per share. The retail chain also expects sales to decline on a year over year basis.

Shares of Staples were inactive in premarket trading this morning.