Updates stock activity) Oct 25 (Reuters) - Office Depot Inc reported a small quarterly loss, excluding items, on Tuesday, as U.S. shoppers cut back on buying computers and other such goods when they shopped for back-to-school gear. Office Depot, the second-largest office supply chain behind Staples Inc, said sales at its North American stores open for at least a year fell 2 percent. The average order value in the North American retail unit fell slightly, and the number of customer transactions fell about 2 percent. KEY POINTS Q3 2011 Estimate* Q3 2010 Sales $2.84 bln $2.89 bln $2.90 bln Net income $91.7 mln $32.0 mln EPS $0.28 $0.12 Adjusted EPS $0.00 $0.01 * Note: Average analyst estimate according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. - Excluding charges from restructuring activities and other costs as well as a tax-related benefit, the company had a loss, after preferred stock dividends, of about $700,000. - "I'm pleased with the traction we're getting in our North American businesses despite a lackluster U.S. economy," Chairman and Chief Executive Neil Austrian said. "The successful execution of our key business initiatives is beginning to move the needle." MARKET REACTION Office Depot shares fell 8.7 percent to $2.32 in early trading. The shares sank to a 52-week low of $1.75 on Oct. 4. Staples shares were down 2 percent at $14.79 while shares of smaller rival OfficeMax Inc were down 7.7 percent at$5.41. BACKGROUND/LINKS - Graphic on Office Depot's performance vs. OfficeMax: http://link.reuters.com/tep64s - On Sept. 7, Office Depot said quarterly North American same-store sales were down through August, but its gross margin rose because the chain no longer sold entry-level laptops. - It also said quarterly back-to-school sales and gross margin were both up 1.5 percentage points through August, compared with the year-earlier period. (Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn) Keywords: OFFICEDEPOT/ (email@example.com +1 312 408 8132 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +1 312 408 8132 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.
The copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters