Thursday, March 19, 2009

CHICAGO (AP) - Shares of OfficeMax Inc. climbed in Thursday trading, after an analyst said the struggling office supply chain has a chance to increase its market share as a competitor shuts more than 100 stores.

In a research note published late Wednesday, Citi analyst Kate McShane maintained a hold rating on the Naperville-based retailer’s stock after spending a day with executives.

McShane said OfficeMax will likely lose sales _ temporarily _ as rival Office Depot Inc. liquidates inventory in 112 stores that are closing this month.

“Longer term, management thinks there is a significant opportunity to pick up share in these markets,” McShane wrote, adding those trends could offset overall weakness in comparable-store sales.

“However, we think it could be a tough fight as Staples is also looking to gain from this opportunity,” McShane wrote.

Meanwhile, she said the company has managed to renegotiate more than 10 percent of its leases and plans to ask landlords for more concessions as the year continues.

The company said its balance sheet was solid and it has enough cash to operate.

OfficeMax shares climbed 14 cents, or 5.3 percent, to end at $2.78 Thursday.

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