On Wednesday August 17, 2011, 7:45 am By Dhanya Skariachan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Staples Inc (NasdaqGS:SPLS - News) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on currency benefits and an uptick in sales to its business customers in North America, prompting the largest U.S. office supply chain to raise its profit outlook.
The news boosted Staples' shares by 8.3 percent to $15.40 in premarket trading.
Smaller rivals have also shown some improvement on the profit front lately, with Office Depot Inc (NYSE:ODP - News) reporting a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and OfficeMax Inc (NYSE:OMX - News) posting better-than-expected earnings.
Many investors look at office supply retailers as a good gauge of the economy, as demand for their products is closely tied to white-collar employment rates. Sales at all three chains have suffered in the weak U.S. economy, and the companies continue to keep a tight rein on costs to offset weak demand.
For the full year, Staples continues to see sales rising at a low-single-digit percentage rate.