Barnes & Noble is good at beating the expectations of stock analysts and their own investor “guidance,” and they did it again for their first quarter, even as overall sales fell 4 percent to $1.105 billion. Same-store sales fell 5.7 percent for the quarter, a little better than their previous guidance, with overall store sales falling only 3.5 percent to $989 million. BN.com sales fell more, by 7 percent, at $93 million.
The net loss from continuing operations of $2.1 million (or 4 cents a share) was better than the predicted loss of 10 cents to 20 cents a share. Based on the “better than expected” first quarter, BN raised their full-year earnings guidance from from $.95 to $1.25 per share to $1.10 to $1.40 per share, and they expect full-year comparable-store sales to decline 3 percent to 5 percent.
In a conference call with investors this morning, company executives said that “store traffic was down throughout quarter.” They now plan to close 15 stores during the year (up from a previous plan of 10 closings.) CEO Steve Riggio said that traffic to their web site continues to increase even though sales declined, blaming “lower conversion rates” which he says will be rectified by “some key site improvements we plant to launch shortly.”
Riggio called their recent Fictionwise acquisition “important and significant” and said that the “digital content arena presents a large growth opportunity for us.”