Staples Q4 profit rises 3.2%

Framingham, Mass. -- Staples Inc. beat Wall Street estimates as its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 3.2% to $283.6 million. Weakness in Europe and Australia was offset by the company’s strongest North American retail sales growth in more than a year.

Total company sales rose 0.7% to $6.46 billion, while analysts expected about $6.45 billion. Sales at Staples’ North American delivery segment and domestic retail segment, which together account for about 80% of the company's revenue, rose 2% to $5.16 billion.

For the full year 2011, total company sales increased 2% to $25.0 billion compared with full year 2010. Net income increased 12% year over year to $985 million

Staples expects a slow growth in the U.S. economy and a soft demand environment in Europe in 2012.