Barnes & Noble reports lower revenue, but higher EBITDA in Q3 earnings report
NOOK revenue falls 50 percent, but losses were cut due to cost rationalization efforts
New York, NY – March 10, 2015 — Barnes & Noble, Inc. today reported sales and earnings for its fiscal 2015 third quarter ended January 31, 2015.
Third quarter consolidated revenues of $1.96 billion declined $35 million as compared to the prior year. Third quarter consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 14% as compared to the prior year to $197 million.
“We are pleased with the performance of our businesses,” said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “Retail Core comparable sales increased 1.7% on the continued stabilization of the physical book business, as well as continued growth in non-book core categories such as Educational Toys & Games and Gifts. While College continues to invest in its future, its top line sales grew through new school acquisitions and better than expected comparable sales trends. NOOK’s EBITDA loss was cut in half due to ongoing cost rationalization efforts. This performance across all businesses further supports our belief that now is the right time to separate the College business. The separation will allow each business to optimize their strategic opportunities, given their respective growth profiles, and specifically enable College to pursue opportunities in the growing educational services market.”
Third Quarter 2015 Results from Operations
Segment results for the fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2014 third quarters are as follows:
The Retail segment, which includes the Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com, had revenues of $1.4 billion for the quarter, decreasing 1.0% as compared to the prior year. The sales decrease was primarily attributable to lower sales of NOOK products, leading to a comparable store sales decline of 0.3% for the quarter, as well as store closures. “Core” comparable store sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, increased 1.7% for the quarter on higher sales of both book and non-book core categories.
Retail generated EBITDA of $199 million in the quarter, essentially flat as compared to a year ago. Retail EBITDA benefitted from a higher mix of higher margin core products and lower core product markdowns, which was offset by the previously disclosed charge of $7 million relating to the termination of the Company’s pension plan.
The College segment had revenues of $521 million, increasing 7.2% as compared to a year ago. In addition to new store growth, third quarter sales benefitted from a later shift in the fiscal calendar. The quarter ended on January 31st this year, as compared to January 25th last year, and, therefore, included an additional week of the spring back-to-school rush season.
For the comparable sales period, comparable College store sales decreased 1.4% for the quarter. The spring back-to-school rush season extended past the close of the Company’s fiscal third quarter. Factoring in the two additional weeks in February that contributed to this year’s rush season, comparable store sales decreased 1.0%. Comparable sales comparisons are not impacted by the calendar timing difference noted above.
College EBITDA declined $7 million as compared to a year ago to $28 million, as revenue growth was offset by continued investments to support business growth and the digital education platform. Margins also declined on higher textbook rental deferrals and comparisons to a prior year favorable LIFO adjustment.
The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories) had revenues of $78 million for the quarter, decreasing 50.6% from a year ago. Device and accessories sales were $37 million for the quarter, a decrease of 62.8% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume. Digital content sales were $41 million for the quarter, a decline of 29.3% compared to a year ago, due primarily to the lower device unit sales volume.
Despite the sales decline, NOOK EBITDA losses decreased $32 million, or 52.5%, as compared to a year ago to $29 million. Margins improved on product mix and lower occupancy costs, while expenses declined on continued cost rationalization efforts.
Consolidated third quarter net earnings were $72 million, or $0.93 per share, compared to net earnings of $63 million, or $0.86 per share, in the prior year.
For fiscal year 2015, the Company continues to expect Retail comparable bookstore sales to decline in the low-single digits, while Retail Core comparable bookstore sales are expected to be approximately flat. Based on the better than expected comparable sales performance, the company now expects College comparable store sales to be approximately flat for the fiscal year. The Company also expects full fiscal year EBITDA losses in the NOOK segment to decline versus the prior year.