Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Staples sees good times ahead

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Check Out Staples saying its third-quarter profit will top Wall Street estimates and backing its long-term forecast, all in the midst of a global economic crisis.

Staples is holding a conference today with investors. They will no doubt be wondering how the world’s largest office supply retailer plans to convince small business owners and consumers to buy more office supplies in a troubled economy that has made them cut back buying computers, printers and copiers in favor of smaller-ticket items like ink, toner and paper.

Staples said yesterday it plans to open only 75 stores in North America next year, down from a planned 110, but expected to report third-quarter adjusted earnings of 41 cents to 42 cents per share. That’s ahead of analysts’ average expectation of 40 cents per share.

Staples also raised its long-term operating margin goal for the total company to 9 percent, up from the 6.5 percent margin it had in 2007, including the results from its newly acquired Corporate Express business.

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