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Staples posts earnings of 17 cents a share vs. 16 cents expected

Staples reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales as demand recovered in its business that sells office supplies to companies in North America.

Shares of Staples edged slightly lower and closed down about 0.5 percent on Wednesday.

Sales in its North America commercial business rose 0.4 percent to $2.12 billion in the first quarter, helped by demand for promotional products and breakroom supplies.

Staples total operating costs fell 8.3 percent to $1.15 billion in the quarter.

The company posted first-quarter earnings per share of 17 cents, in line with the year-earlier period.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $5.10 billion, against the comparable year-ago figure of $5.26 billion.

Analysts expected Staples to report earnings of 16 cents per share on revenue of $5.09 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

Shares of Staples have fallen nearly 20 percent in May after the office supply retailer scrapped its merger agreement with rival Office Depot. Staples owes Office Depot a $250 million break-up fee after the FTC complained the $6.3 billion tie up would violate antitrust laws.

The company is coming off a couple of years of heavy investment and store closures, CEO Ronald Sargent said in a conference call last quarter, as more shoppers move online and Staples ramps up contract sales to mid-size business and expands inventory of non-office supplies.

— CNBC's Anita Balakrishnan and Reuters contributed to this report.