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 added Google Play apps and services to its NOOK tablets.
It’s natural to wonder whether Liberty Media Chairman John Malone’s new acquisition of 27.3% of Charter Communications is merely Step One in a plan to make him a U.S. cable titan — the role he played until 1999 when he sold Tele-Communications Inc to AT&T. And while Liberty CEO Greg Maffei doesn’t predict that, he also didn’t rule it out today in a quarterly earnings call with analysts. He says that cable “could be in for a round of consolidation” at a time when it’s so inexpensive to borrow money and large companies covet opportunities to cut costs — for example by negotiating lower prices from programmers. He cryptically adds that even though Charter can do just fine as a stand-alone entity, “we’ll see” whether it ends up being “a consolidator or condolidatee.” Liberty’s stock purchase agreement gives it the right over time to raise its stake to 40%. Will it do so? “We’ll see what time holds,” Maffei says.
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 …
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 …
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.
NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will supply standard definition and HD movies and TV shows to the NOOK Video download and rental service — just as Barnes & Noble prepares this week to ship its NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets and offer them in its stores. The bookstore retailer’s release skimps on details about the agreements, including how much content the studios will provide, how much titles might cost, and what other devices might be able to handle Nook Video streams and downloads. But it says that titles include Snow White And The Huntsman, Battleship, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Along with its previous deals with HBO, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, STARZ, Viacom, Warner Bros, and Disney, Barnes & Noble says it will offer “thousands of movies and TV shows for all ages and interests.” The new agreements, and tablets, also are designed to make it easy for NOOK owners to stream videos from their UltraViolet accounts.
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:
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 …