Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), a bookseller that competes with Borders Group (NYSE: BGP), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), and retailers that stock books such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), did not do well during the third quarter. Total sales decreased over 4%. A GAAP loss of $0.34 per share was reported versus a GAAP profit of $0.07 per share in the year-ago period. On an adjusted basis, the loss of $0.21 per share missed the call by $0.05, according to this source.
Okay, is it me, or do these numbers basically broadcast loud and clear that Barnes & Noble is not worth one penny of your investment capital? Besides the above, same-store sales took a big dive of 7.4%. That should be the last nail in the coffin of the current Barnes & Noble story, one that reads like a Stephen King novel. Actually, though, it isn't. Another nail to add would be the fact that guidance has been adjusted lower by management. Now, according to CEO Steve Riggio, gross margins are doing okay. I'll skip that chapter, though, as there isn't much substance to it. Who cares about the gross margin at this point. With traffic down and probably due to get worse, a positive tale of the gross margin isn't going to make me want to buy Barnes & Noble as a value play.
Yeah, I'm just not feeling Barnes & Noble right now. I think the best thing to do with this one is to either stay away from it or short it (please understand that shorting stocks is extremely risky and is not for every individual investor). All that Barnes & Noble can do right now is, as its press release makes amply clear, control expenses and focus on keeping cash flow from deteriorating. That's not a great way to operate. Barnes & Noble should do what it can to improve its brand standing via ad campaigns and the like, but I have to admit, there probably isn't much it can do to save it from a lousy Christmas-selling season.
Disclosure: I don't own any company mentioned; positions can change at any time.