May 17, 2012
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shareholders of book and online-content company Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) are getting a rude surprise, with shares down as much as 12% after one of its major shareholders announced it will be distributing its stake in the company.
So what: Yucaipa Holdings' Ron Burkle noted in a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today that it would "distribute in-kind the shares of [the company's] common stock." Although Barnes & Noble doesn't allow any one holder to attain more than 20% of its common stock, Yucaipa's sale, as one of its largest shareholders, is bound to drag down the company's stock price.
Now what: The big news came earlier in May, when Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) made a $300 million investment in Barnes & Noble to get a Windows 8 Nook app. The separate company that will be developed will present some form of competition to Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Kindle, but details on the spin-off are still emerging. What can be said is I echo Burkle's sentiment to head for the gates. Before the Nook, Barnes & Noble's sales were weakening as content turns increasingly more digital. Books will never go away, but that form of content continues to shrink in popularity. I think today is another stark reminder that Barnes & Noble is a poor investment.
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