Lackluster Barnes and Noble Earnings Today Reflect Bookseller Troubles

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble (BKS) earnings numbers out today follow analyst projections somewhat, but it’s still not great news for books: with reported fourth-quarter net loss of $18.7 million and sales of $755.4 million, the bookseller, now a veritable monopoly across the country, still can’t poke its head above water in terms of year-over-year activity, with bigger losses and lower sales than this time last summer.

“Barnes & Noble shares edged down 0.2% in premarket trading, and have fallen nearly 6% for the year to date,” writes Tonya Garcia at MarketWatch.

Garcia also cites an acquisition by Elliott Advisors UK Ltd.  which would “take the company private” in an all-cash buyout.

Since the demise of Borders books years ago, BKS is only rivaled by Books-a-Million, (BAMM) where stock value has been halved since last month. In general, it’s a hard era in which to sell books, what with the rise of epublishing. Moreover, the reports also show less than stellar sales for Barnes and Noble’s “nook” eReader.

“Starting in the late 1990s, B&N went from corporate villain (and You’ve Got Mail foil) to struggling underdog as Amazon rode its own arc from scrappy disruptor to monopolizing force majeure,” wrote Jordan Crucchiola in Vulture June 10, in a guide to the corporate chain’s life cycle. “Through the ups and downs, (founder Leonard Riggio) has either maintained control or been a short distance from the controlling seat, but the Elliott sale likely commences the first truly new management era in the company’s history.”

Providing a timeline, Crucchiola goes over some of the more sordid points in BKS history: “Wild swings in corporate direction, CEOs hired and soon discarded — including Riggio’s brother and another, allegedly dismissed for harassment, who later sued for libel.”


All of this and more is reflected in a five year chart which shows BKS stock slowly deflating from $15 to around $6.50, or more specifically, the ominous marker of $6.66 as of the last check at 10:30.

Look for Elliot to “manage” the future of this bookseller in its private incarnation.