Who ever thought $1 billion would be hard to come by?
You may recall that Liberty Media (Nasdaq: LCAPA ) proposed to buy book chain Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) back in May for roughly $1 billion, or $17 in cash per share. Investors may have gotten a little ahead of themselves after the offer, bidding shares all the way above $21 within the following month, even though the company has been upfront that this proposal may not lead to any definitive acquisition offer.
The latest reports are now further dimming the possibility of an all-out acquisition due to financing constraints, in favor of Liberty making an investment instead. The possible deal had previously been scaled down to Liberty taking a 70% stake, but yesterday’s reports failed to elaborate on how much Liberty Media may invest. That uncertainty has led disappointed shareholders to punish the stock as much as 12% yesterday on the news. Liberty Media’s own recent earnings press release included a vague statement that it is “seeking to acquire a significant stake in Barnes & Noble.”
I’m with fellow Fool Rick Munarriz: This deal doesn’t make sense. Retail bookstores are going by the wayside. At least B&N is trying to keep up with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) with its Nook. That’s more than Borders could boast. To be clear, I think Barnes & Nobles is dead in the water. The company still operates more than 1,300 bricks-and-mortar locations, which have mostly posted declining comparable sales over the last five years. The Nook can try, but there’s no way it can stand up to the Kindle.
Anything short of a full acquisition is only going to prolong the pain for B&N shareholders. Since it seems like that’s off the table, your investing dollars are better suited somewhere else.