Framingham, Mass. - Staples reported a 17 percent hike in fiscal fourth-quarter profits, to $275 million.
Net sales for the three months, ended Jan. 29, were essentially flat at $6.4 billion.
Retail sales in North America were flat at $2.6 billion while same-store sales slipped 2 percent -- due, the company said, to winter storms and softness in computers and peripherals.
During the quarter Staples opened nine stores and closed six in North America, for a net total of 1,900 locations across the continent.
"While the fourth quarter was challenging primarily due to the impact of winter storms, sales have recovered in the first quarter of 2011," said Staples chairman/CEO Ron Sargent.
The company "got back to growing the top-line, achieved solid operating margin expansion and earnings growth, and generated over a billion dollars in free cash flow" in 2010, Sargent said. Going forward, "our business is healthy, we're investing in the right things, and our growth initiatives are gaining traction and positioning us well for a strong 2011."