The book retail chain’s shares are up 8.1% in mid-afternoon trading, making it one of the day’s biggest gainers in the media pack. Barron’s appears to be largely responsible for the move after it seized this weekend on reports that Microsoft might be willing to pay $1B for Barnes & Noble‘s NOOK tablet and e-reader platform. “It’s possible Microsoft may bid for Nook or the whole company, and there could also be interest from Liberty [Media]” which already owns 17% of Barnes & Noble, Barron’s says. Deals could send shares up as much as 50% the magazine estimates. The Microsoft rumor took off two weeks ago after Techcrunch cited “internal documents” that confirmed an offer. That sent shares to a 52-week high of $23.71. But enthusiasm fizzled last week when website Insider Monkey reported that a “highly placed source inside Microsoft” said an acquisition “is not happening in the foreseeable future.” That hasn’t put speculation about a big deal to rest. Founder Leonard Riggio has said that he might make an offer for the retail stores, although he hasn’t made it yet. Meanwhile Techcrunch yesterday cited “a source close to the matter” who says that Barnes & Noble is preparing to add a web browser, email, and apps to the Nook Simple Touch e-readers — potentially a big boost in functionality for a $79 device. The company recently …
The book retail chain has a bleak story for Wall Street this morning. It reported a net loss of $6.1M for the three months that ended in January, down from a $52M profit a year ago, on revenues of $2.2B, -8.8%. Revenues missed analyst expectations for $2.4B. And with a dividend on preferred shares thrown in, the company generated a net loss of 18 cents a share — a contrast to the 54 cent profit analysts anticipated. The NOOK results continued to disappoint. It generated $316M in sales in the quarter, down 25.9% from a year ago, with a cash flow (EBITDA) loss of $190.4M, worse than last year’s $82.8M loss. The results include $21M for returns, and $15M in promotional allowances. As a result, Barnes & Noble took a $59M writedown on its NOOK inventory. It says that it is “calibrating its business model and has implemented a cost reduction program that the company projects will significantly reduce NOOK’s expenses.” CEO William Lynch says that the company remains committed to the tablet and e-reader business. In the main retail bookstore business, sales decreased 10.3% to $1.5B although EBITDA increased 7.3% to $212M. Not including NOOK sales, revenues at stores open at least a year were down 2.2%. This week B&N founder Leonard Riggio said he may offer to buy the stores.
Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, whose company owns about 17% of Barnes & Noble, doesn’t seem impressed by this week’s disclosure by the book store chain’s founder Leonard Riggio that he may try to buy its retail operation. “It’s very preliminary,” Maffei told analysts today. “We’ll see where Len goes with it.” Maffei speculated that Riggio may have been legally bound by SEC rules to express an interest in buying just to keep the option open. “It was very logical that he would want to be interested,” Maffei says. He adds that he’ll “wait to see what happens” before saying whether Liberty might support or oppose a takeover. Riggio’s disclosure sure looked serious. He said on Monday that his purchase price “would be negotiated with the Board” and its advisers and “is currently contemplated” to include cash and assumption of debt. The company turned the negotiations over to a special board committee and hired outside financial and legal advisers. Maffei doesn’t sound like he wants to sell (which would also be a smart way to help negotiate up the price). Barnes & Noble’s bricks-and-mortar stores have “probably performed better than most outside observers would have thought, and better than we have thought” since 2011 when Liberty first invested. “We’re of the view that there will be retail bookstores around for a long time,” he says. “We really thought of ourselves …
Shares are up more than 15% in pre-market trading after Leonard Riggio disclosed in an SEC filing this morning that he plans to make an offer for the retailer’s main business. Barnes & Noble‘s founder, chairman and largest stockholder, with nearly 30% of the voting shares, says he’s interested in the stores and barnesandnoble.com, but not the NOOK Media operation where B&N owns about 78.2% of equity along with Microsoft which has 16.8% and Pearson with 5%. Riggio’s proposal would “facilitate the Company’s evaluation of its previously announced review of strategic options for the separation of its investment in NOOK Media,” he says. The purchase price “would be negotiated with the Board” and its advisers and “is currently contemplated” to include cash and assumption of debt. Riggio would include his equity and take on the debt needed to make the deal.
The stock is down 7.3% at midday following the book chain’s warning last night that there’s bad news ahead regarding its NOOK e-readers and tablets. It now forecasts that NOOK revenues for the fiscal year that ends in April will come in below $3B, with a cash-flow (EBITDA) loss that will be “greater than it was in fiscal 2012.” That contradicts Barnes & Noble‘s assurance last month that the NOOK unit would generate revenues of about $3B, with a cash flow loss “at a comparable level to fiscal year 2012.” And it makes 2013 the third straight year that Barnes & Noble will miss its guidance, Maxim Group analyst John Tinker notes. The NOOK business “is proving to be expensive — and with slowing revenues makes spinning it off to tech investors harder,” he says. “At some point the company has to quantify the amount it is prepared to lose.” The company says it will report earnings for the three months ending in January on February 28, later than it tentatively planned. B&N owns about 78.2% of the NOOK Media subsidiary, while Microsoft controls 16.8% and Pearson has 5%.
So much for the hope that price cuts and favorable reviews would enable Barnes & Noble‘s NOOK tablets and e-readers to keep up with comparable products from Apple, Amazon, and Google. The No. 1 book retail chain says that NOOKs underperformed over the nine-week holiday season while revenues at the overall retail business fell 10.9% to $1.2B. “NOOK device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday,” CEO William Lynch says. “We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward.” The one saving grace of the numbers is that investors expected them to be worse. B&N shares are up 1.9% in early trading Thursday, after falling 3.9% yesterday. The company says that core sales — not including NOOK products — fell 3.1% over the nine-week holiday period at stores open at least a year. That was better than B&N expected, and means the results for the basic business should be down by low- to mid-single digits for the fiscal year that ends in April. The holiday season decline rises to 8.2% when you factor in the fact that B&N has fewer stores, and had lower online sales.
The stock is down about 6.5% in early trading following the leading bookstore chain’s earnings report that left open questions about whether it can keep up with online rivals led by Amazon that continue to take market share. Helped by $2.8M in dividends received from preferred shares, Barnes & Noble reported net income of $2.2M for the quarter ending in October — up from a $6.6M loss a year ago — on revenues of $1.88B, -0.4%. The revenue figure is slightly lower than the $1.91B that analysts expected. But excluding the dividend, the net loss attributable to B&N of 4 cents a share beat the Street’s forecast of a 6 cent loss. At the retail unit, which includes the bookstores and book sales at BN.com, revenues fell 2.9% to $996M. The company says that last year’s numbers were helped after Borders liquidated. But in stores open at least a year, sales (not including its NOOK eReaders and tablets) were up 1.8%. In college textbooks B&N revenues were up 0.4% to $773M. Meanwhile the NOOK operation — which includes the hardware as well as digital content — remains a mixed story: Revenues were up 5.6% to $160.3M but it still generates a cash flow loss as B&N invests in new products and overseas expansion. The company says that NOOK unit sales doubled in last week’s four day Black Friday period vs last year — which matches Amazon’s experience with its Kindles.
The “sophisticated criminal effort” captured consumers’ credit and debit card numbers after conspirators planted bugs in PIN pads at 63 Barnes & Noble stores, the company says this morning. The scheme didn’t affect Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets or mobile apps, the chain’s member database, or any Barnes & Noble College Bookstores. B&N says it caught the problem in mid-September, and that it’s safe now to use credit and debit cards at its stores. It pulled all of the PIN pads in nearly 700 outlets. Still, the company urges consumers at the stores that were hit — listed in the press release below — to change their PIN numbers and check their accounts to be sure that they don’ t include phony transactions.
Here’s the release:
Shares rose 8.3% to $14.96 this afternoon after CEO William Lynch vigorously argued at a Liberty Media investors’ meeting that stock buyers aren’t giving the book retail chain its due. With a market price of about $884M, the company that generated $7.2B in revenues last year “is undervalued,” he says. There’s a “strong, profitable and vibrant business” in its traditional bookstores, especially as rivals including Borders have closed. Lynch also urged investors to take a closer look at its new Nookmedia LLC partnership with Microsoft. The operation was valued at $1.7B this year when the computer giant invested $300M for a 17.6% stake in an operation that includes B&N’s Nook e-readers and tablets, e-Books, and college-targeted software. B&N’s stock price suggests that “investors are getting Nookmedia for free,” Lynch says. That overlooks the opportunities for the company as it builds its eBook sales, digital subscriptions, and eLearning — which he says has “big plans and announcements coming.” Lynch also talked up the new Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets, which have won encouraging reviews ahead of the October 25 ship date. Nookmedia is “a big and growing company in an exploding space,” Lynch says. Liberty owns 17% of B&N.
That’s hard to say: Even Barnes & Noble can’t articulate why consumers might favor its planned digital video purchase and rental service over its more established rivals. There’s no word on how much movies and TV shows will cost. It’ll be “incredibly competitive,” says B&N General Manager of Emerging Digital Content Jonathan Shar. We don’t know how many movies and TV shows B&N will offer, or how recent most titles will be. We don’t even know whether it will work with all flavors of Apple and Android powered devices. “As one of the world’s largest retailers of physical video discs and digital copyrighted content, our new NOOK Video service will give our customers another way to be entertained with a vast and growing digital video collection, as part of our expansive NOOK Store,” CEO William Lynch says.
Shares in Barnes & Noble were trading up ahead of the opening bell today as the company reported fiscal 2013 Q1 results. The bookseller’s consolidated Q1 net loss narrowed 28% to $41M as compared to a loss of $56.6M a year ago. Consolidated revenues were $1.5B, up 2.5% from the year prior. Digital content sales were up 46% while bookstores saw growth thanks in part to market consolidation, but also to the best-selling Fifty Shades Of Grey series. Retail, which includes bricks & mortar outlets and BN.com, was up 2% over the same period in 2011 with $1.1B in revenues. Overall, the Nook business unit was essentially flat compared to last year with $192M in revenues. On Monday, Barnes & Noble said it would begin offering the Nook e-readers and digital content in the UK. Products will be available through new online storefront www.nook.co.uk beginning in mid-October, and also through partnerships with leading retailers.
Barnes & Noble says it will bring its Nook e-readers and digital content to the United Kingdom this fall, marking the first time the company will expand its business internationally. The products will be available through a new online storefront www.nook.co.uk beginning in mid-October. Barnes & Noble says the products also will be offered through partnerships with leading retailers expected to be announced shortly. “We are proud to be able to offer our top-rated line of NOOK reading devices and our award-winning digital bookstore to the discerning and highly educated consumers in the UK,” said William J. Lynch, Chief Executive Officer at Barnes & Noble. “We’re confident our award-winning technology, combined with our expansive content – including books, children’s books, magazines, apps, movies and more – will bring UK customers the option they’ve been waiting for.” The company says further product, pricing and availability details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Barnes & Noble shares are up more than 70% in pre-market trading following the announcement. The computer software giant will own 17.6% of the Nook subsidiary, valuing it at $1.7B, and provide a Nook application in its new Windows 8 operating system, the companies said this morning. Barnes & Noble will own the remaining 82.4% of the venture. The agreement also settles the patent infringement complaint that Barnes & Noble raised against Microsoft last year. The bookseller and its Nook subsidiary “will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products,” the companies said. Barnes & Noble is throwing its College books business into the subsidiary. Its Nook Study software “will provide students and educators the preeminent technology platform for the distribution and management of digital education materials in the market.” Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch says that Microsoft’s investment will help “bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, (and) will allow us to significantly expand the business.” Barnes & Noble said in January that it was considering a spin off of its Nook business. The book chain says in an SEC filing that Microsoft will pay the Nook subsidiary $60M a year in the first three years after it launches Windows 8, as well as $25M a year for five years to help the enterprise acquire digital reading content and develop technology.
The stock is down 25% in early trading following the book store chain’s announcement that it may unload or spin off its Nook operation. “We see substantial value in what we’ve built with our Nook business in only two years, and we believe it’s the right time to investigate our options to unlock that value,” CEO William Lynch said. The company added that it’s talking to ”strategic partners including publishers, retailers and technology companies in international markets that may lead to expansion of the Nook business abroad.” There’s no timetable for the review of the Nook business, and Barnes & Noble says that it doesn’t plan to comment on the process “unless and until a decision is made.”
Barnes & Noble says that during the nine-week holiday season total sales for the Nook line were up 70% vs the same period last year. But while demand for its new Nook Tablet was strong, sales for its Nook Simple Touch “lagged expectations, indicating a stronger customer preference for color devices.” B&N updated its earnings guidance saying that it now expects cash flow of as much as $180M in the fiscal year that ends in April — down from its forecast in December for as much as $250M. “The change in guidance is due primarily to a shortfall in the expected sales of Nook Simple Touch, as well as additional investments in growing the Nook business, such as advertising to support new products and international expansion …
Barnes & Noble today unveiled its new Nook Tablet, which comes preloaded with apps from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora. The boost in entertainment options compared with previous versions signals the company’s intention to compete in the space against the likes of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad. And it is throwing down the gauntlet just in time for the holiday buying season: Nook Tablet is set to begin selling around November 17 for $249. Billed as an update to its e-reader Nook Color, the new incarnation has a 7-inch screen, Web browsing and email in addition to “access to the world’s largest digital bookstore via Wi-Fi.” It plans to offer Flixster and UltraViolet soon. The device has 16 gigabytes of storage and a battery life that will enable 11.5 hours of reading time or nine hours of watching videos in a single charge. Barnes & Noble also said today that it is lowering the price of its Nook Simple Touch (to $99) and Nook Color ($199).
In May, John Malone’s Liberty offered to buy all of Barnes & Noble for $1B. But the offer stalled and the book retailer said Thursday that the takeover talks had been ditched in light of the $204M investment agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Liberty Media bought preferred stock convertible into about 12 million Barnes & Noble shares at $17 apiece, giving it about a 17% stake in the company. The preferred shares will pay an annual dividend of 7.75%. Liberty will also get two seats on the company’s board of directors, which is being expanded to 11 members. It has nominated Greg Maffei, its president and CEO, and Mark Carleton, a senior vice president, to take the seats.
Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale last year in response to pressure from billionaire shareholder Ron Burkle, but the company didn’t strike a deal. Burkle, who has since stepped back and cut his stake, said Thursday in a statement that he had “grave concerns about the pricing and process.” Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble has continued to struggle along with other traditional book sellers — longtime rival Borders Group recently went out of business — facing tough competition from online retailers like Amazon.com and discounters like Wal-Mart. Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, said the capital injection from Liberty will go toward expanding the company’s digital business.
Maffei said Liberty Media is …
Barnes & Noble said today that John Malone’s Liberty Media, whose holdings include entertainment businesses as diverse as QVC, Starz Media and Sirius XM Radio, has offered to buy the nation’s biggest bookstore chain for $1.02 billion. The $17-per-share offer is a 20% premium over Barnes & Noble’s closing stock price Thursday. The bookseller put itself up for sale in August amid slumping sales that already chased main rival Borders into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. Liberty’s proposal is “contingent on the participation of founding chairman Leonard Riggio, both in terms of his continuing equity ownership and his continuing role in management,” according to Barnes & Noble. Riggio and his brother Stephen, who’s vice chairman, together control about 31.5% of B&N stock.