By most measures, it was a solid quarter for Office Depot (NYSE:ODP), the Delray Beach, Fla.-based company that is the nation's second-largest office supply retailer. However, "solid" doesn't always translate to "good" in the market's sometimes narrow vernacular, and the company's shares paid for performance with a price slide following the release last Wednesday.

For the quarter ended Dec. 30, 2006, the company's net income increased to $135.0 million, or 27% above the $106.3 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Fully diluted per-share earnings increased to $0.48, versus $0.34 in the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2005. Excluding certain items in both periods -- primarily charges and the effect of an extra week in the prior period -- adjusted net earnings increased to $152 million, from $117 million, and diluted adjusted per-share earnings increased 42% to $0.54, from $0.38 in the same period of the earlier year.

However, with analysts' unadjusted consensus expectations at $0.52 a share, Office Depot's stock price slid nearly 5% in the final three days of the week. Its closing price was $35.65 per share on Friday.

The company's sales increased 3% in the fourth quarter to $3.8 million, although adjusting for the 53rd week of 2005, the increase was 8%. Fourth-quarter sales of the North American retail division, when also adjusted for the extra week, were up 7% in the quarter. International sales were up 13% for the quarter, making up 26% of total sales for the quarter.

The company bought back about 2.4 million of its shares at a cost of approximately $100 million in the quarter. Another $200 million remains authorized for future repurchases.

"We are pleased with the performance of our business in the fourth quarter," said Steve Odland, Office Depot's chairman and CEO. "The strategic initiatives that we have implemented have led to sales growth in each of our divisions, as well as lower operations expenses and expanded total company margins."

So now we'll await the releases for comparative purposes of Office Depot's two primary public office supply competitors. OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) will report this Thursday, and Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), the largest factor in this specialty retail subgroup, will report Q4 earnings on March 1.

In the meantime, if you're interested in office supply companies, Fools might wisely spend time comparing the companies. Office Depot boasts a forward P/E of just over 13 times, versus 18 times for Staples and more than 20 times at Office Max. Both Office Depot and Staples sport five-year PEG ratios (the P/E ratios divided by the anticipated growth rates) close to 1.0 and returns on equity that hover around 20%. OfficeMax, meanwhile, has a PEG ratio of 1.5 with a comparatively lower return on equity at 1.21%. On those bases alone, both Office Depot and Staples could prove interesting going forward.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments.