Barnes & Noble sales declines overcome by lower costs and reduced losses from NOOK
Lower online sales and store closures leads to lower revenue, but a reduction in NOOK losses helps the bookstore retailer’s bottom line
NEW YORK, NY – March 3, 2016 — Barnes & Noble, Inc. today reported sales and earnings for its fiscal 2016 third quarter ended January 30, 2016.
Sales for the third quarter were $1.4 billion, decreasing 1.8% as compared to a year ago. Third quarter EBITDA was $169.0 million, increasing 1.6% as compared to EBITDA of $166.4 million a year ago. Consolidated third quarter net earnings from continuing operations were $80.3 million or $1.04 per share, compared to net earnings from continuing operations of $39.0 million, or $0.45 per share, in the prior year.
“We are pleased with our bookstore sales performance and the reduction of NOOK losses during the fiscal third quarter,” said Ron Boire, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “Our Retail Core comparable store sales exhibited year-on-year growth, increasing 1.3% on top of a 1.7% increase a year ago, led by the continued strength of adult coloring books, as well as our Toys & Games, music and gift businesses. We are encouraged by the improved bookstore sales trends that are enabling us to close the least amount of stores since fiscal 2000 and are excited to introduce our new store concept later this year, with the opening of four new stores throughout fiscal 2017. While we still have significant work to do to improve sales at BN.com, we are encouraged by the site’s improved performance during the quarter and are making investments to drive traffic and sales. I am also pleased with the progress that has been made to reduce NOOK losses. We remain committed to providing a great digital reading experience to our customers, while exploring all opportunities to further reduce losses. Moving forward, our top priorities are growing bookstore and online sales, reducing Retail and NOOK expenses and growing our membership base.”
Retail sales, which include Barnes & Noble stores and BN.com, were $1.4 billion, decreasing 1.2% due to lower online sales and store closures. Comparable store sales increased 0.2% for the quarter. Excluding NOOK products, Core comparable store sales increased 1.3% for the quarter.
Retail EBITDA was $180.2 million, decreasing $15.2 million as compared to the prior year. EBITDA declined primarily on the sales decline, increased advertising and a non-cash publishing contract impairment charge of $4 million, partially offset by prior year pension settlement charges.
NOOK sales of $51.7 million decreased 33.3% due primarily to lower device and content sales. NOOK EBITDA losses of $11.2 million declined $17.9 million versus the prior year as the company continues to focus on cost rationalization efforts.
Return of Capital
During the quarter, the company returned over $28 million in cash to its shareholders, including $16.5 million through share repurchases and $11.5 million in dividends. The Company acquired approximately 1.8 million shares at an average price of $9.17 during the quarter under its share repurchase program.
For fiscal year 2016, the company continues to expect comparable store sales to be approximately flat with the prior year. Excluding NOOK products, Core comparable store sales are expected to increase approximately 1%. The company also expects full fiscal year EBITDA losses in the NOOK segment to decline versus the prior year.