Bargain Books-A-Million

I can't think about Books-A-Million (Nasdaq: BAMM  ) without recalling Thanksgiving week 1998, when the stock went from trading 100,000 shares at $3 to 33 million shares at $38. I nearly won the Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Investment Challenge on that move.

I can't recall what logic (or illogic, rather) created such maniacal behavior, but that was irrelevant at the time. If people had cared about that, then it would never have gotten so crazy. And, of course, I didn't have it in my portfolio, which pretty much sums up my day-trading adventure that same year.

I suppose the stock is still a bit tainted by its past volatility. It somehow managed to weave its way through the fallen Internet companies, trading just above penny stock status. But it came through in good shape and is now putting up some decent numbers.

For its fiscal first quarter, the retail and Internet bookseller's sales increased 10.2% over a year earlier to $108.5 million and same-store sales rose 7.1%. Net income came in at $1.2 million ($0.07 per share), compared to a loss of $1.0 million ($0.06 per share) a year earlier. Not surprisingly, moving mass quantities of low-carb diet titles out of its 208 stores helped its sales.

It's not looking for much growth in the second quarter because last year's second-quarter sales were boosted significantly by the release of a Harry Potter book. But the company did also increase its outlook for the fiscal year by $0.03 to a range of $0.52-$0.54, compared to $0.43 last year. And given that it's still trading cheaper, with a P/E of 11 as of yesterday's close, than direct competitors Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) , Borders (NYSE: BGP  ) , and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , it's still a bargain.

The Fool offers several interesting discussion boards on Books & Writing. Check them out by taking a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.


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