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DELRAY BEACH, FL-The stars aligned for Office DepotInc. during the second quarter, allowing the retailchain to increase its operating profit by 20% to $143million and earnings by 26% to $100 million. Earningsper share increased 24% to 31 cents per share, neatlybeating Wall Street expectations of 24 cents,according to Thomson First Call.

Not surprisingly, Office Depot’s chairman and CEOSteve Odland said during the company’s earningsconference call that he was pleased with the chain’soverall performance during the second quarter.However, he went a step further to caution analystsand investors about “straight-lining these kinds ofresults.” He said: “Some quarters everything fallsyour way. Other quarters you don’t have that kind ofluck.”

With luck on its side, Office Depot’s second quartersales reached $3.4 billion, an increase of 6% comparedto the same period last year. Its North AmericanRetail Division posted 8% sales growth and 3%same-store growth for the quarter. In contrast, its international division was a poor performer during the second quarter as sales fell 1%, while division operating profit also declined 20%

“North American retail recorded its sixth consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales while growing its division operating profit by 41%,” Odland said. “Our international operating results, however, did not keep pace with those of our North American divisions. Over time, we need to grow this business at a more rapid rate and deliver improved profitability.”

Office Depot concluded its earnings call with awarning that it may have charges during the thirdquarter related to a new review of its assets andbusinesses. During the second quarter, Office Depot opened 17 newstores, for a total of 1,011 superstores throughoutthe US and Canada.

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