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Staples CEO Doesn't See Another Recession

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Staples Inc. (SPLS) Chief Executive Ron Sargent said the U.S. economy remains in "purgatory," but the threat of another recession is low. Sargent, speaking at the Goldman Sachs retail conference in New York, described the back-to-school season as "OK," and neither "robust" nor "a downer." Smaller rival OfficeMax Inc. (OMX), which will present at the conference later Wednesday morning, earlier Wednesday said its back-to-school season was "soft," and it now expects current quarter sales to be slightly lower than the year-ago period. Office Depot Inc. (ODP), also a presenter later Wednesday, separately said its third quarter will see comparable-store sales fall but margins improve, the result of eliminating popular but lower margin products like entry level laptop computers. Staples didn't provide new guidance for its fiscal third quarter, and Sargent said he continues to expect earnings for the fiscal year to grow 10% to 15% over last year. Staples' dividend yield of 2.9% is attractive at the stock's current prices, with shares at $13.63, which is down 27% over the past year. Sargent said it expects to raise the dividend in line with earnings and, at current prices, share repurchases might be the "best investment" it can make with its free cash flow. Addressing competition from Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and its cut-throat pricing, Staples said its rewards programs, with 10% and 15% discounts, make its prices for popular printer ink and toner cartridges competitive, but noted that price cuts may be in order. Staples still has room to grow its store base, the executive said, despite what many see as an office-supply sector suffering from a glut of retail locations. It doesn't have stores in markets like St. Louis, Buffalo, N.Y., Memphis, Tenn. and New Orleans, he said, but it will some day. -By Maxwell Murphy, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2171; maxwell.murphy@dowjones.com

Stock News for Staples (SPLS)
DateTimeHeadline
02/04/201616:27:55Amended Statement of Ownership (sc 13g/a)
02/04/201613:00:00Staples Canada Releases Recent Sustainability Achievements
02/02/201617:26:22Current Report Filing (8-k)
02/02/201616:01:00Staples and Office Depot Finalize Merger Agreement Extension
01/27/201615:57:06Amended Statement of Ownership (sc 13g/a)
01/25/201618:00:00Staples President of North American Stores to Leave
01/25/201616:08:48Current Report Filing (8-k)
01/25/201616:01:00Staples Streamlines Structure, Announces Leadership Changes
01/20/201609:20:00Staples, Office Depot to Extend Merger Termination Date
01/20/201608:49:56Current Report Filing (8-k)
01/20/201608:00:00Staples and Office Depot Intend to Extend Merger Agreement
01/12/201607:00:00Freelance Economy Growing as Employees Look for Flexibility...
01/06/201606:00:00Staples Launches New Next Day Guarantee Tech Services to Help...
01/04/201606:00:00Staples Launches Quick Wins App to Help Small Businesses Succeed...
12/28/201508:00:00Staples Helps Small Businesses Get More For Less with New 110...
12/21/201508:46:00Staples, Inc. Issues Update on Discussions with Federal Trade...
12/11/201510:30:00Walgreens, Rite Aid Receive Second Request From FTC
12/09/201507:07:00eBags Adds Two High Profile Executives to its Strategic Advisory...
12/08/201516:03:00Staples & Office Depot Issue Open Letter to Customers Regarding...
12/08/201503:03:00Antitrust Cops Put Brakes On Two Mergers

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