Top office products retailer Staples Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue, boosted by its improving North American business, although its profit fell slightly short.

Assuming a modest economic recovery in 2010, Staples also sees sales rising in the mid single-digit percentage range in the current quarter. It forecast first-quarter earnings of 25 cents to 27 cents a share, excluding items, while analysts expected a profit of 27 cents a share.

Smaller rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax also posted better-than-expected results and said sales trends were perking up.

Staples' fourth-quarter net earnings fell to $238.8 million, or 32 cents a share, from $289.1 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, it earned 38 cents a share, missing the analysts' average forecast of 39 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose about 4 percent to $6.41 billion, beating the analysts' average estimate of $6.30 billion.

Sales at North American stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, were up 3 percent, boosted by demand for computers, ink and toner. Sales of big ticket items like business machines and furniture were tepid.

For the full year, Staples expects earnings of $1.23 a share to $1.33 a share, excluding items. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.40 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Derek Caney)