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Barnes & Noble Begins a New Chapter: Company Will Spinoff Its Nook Business

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) reported fiscal 2014 fourth-quarter earnings and full year results before the market opened today. But perhaps more interesting was the company's announcement that it will spin off the Nook Media segment from its foundering retail bookstore business. Barnes & Noble's board of directors approved the split, which will create two separate companies out of the businesses by the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

This was likely welcome news for analysts, as many investors on Wall Street have been pushing for a breakup of Barnes & Noble for some time now. Nook sales fell more than 22% in the fourth quarter to $87 million for the three-month period ended May 3. Device and accessories sales in the Nook segment were also down -- plummeting 30% to $25 million in the quarter. Barnes & Noble blamed lower selling volume and discounting for the sales decline in the period. Moreover, revenue from digital content was $62 million in the fourth quarter, down nearly 19% from a year ago.

Results from Barnes & Noble's retail business, on the other hand, were a bit brighter. The company posted a 0.8% bump in revenue to $956 million in the quarter, while full-year revenue for the retail segment came in around $4.3 billion. Unfortunately, sales at stores open at least a year declined 4.1% during the quarter and nearly 6% for the year. Excluding Nook sales, comparable-store sales fell just 1.9% for the quarter.

Overall, Barnes & Noble's fourth-quarter earnings fell short of analyst estimates. Specifically, Barnes & Noble posted a loss of $0.72 per share for the quarter, which was more than the $0.59 loss analysts' were expecting. Nevertheless, quarterly revenue came in at $1.3 billion, which topped the Street's estimates for revenue of $1.1 billion in the period. Shares of Barnes & Noble were up more than 8% today in early trading on the news.

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  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2014, at 12:09 PM, EGTalbot wrote:

    I suppose for the shortest term, this is good news, but let me see if I understand this. They are selling the line of business which anyone without their head in the sand would recognize in the future (and that LOB is tanking).

    The LOB that is the cause for "optimism" is the one which is dead in the mid and long term unless it completely reinvents itself.

    Yes, I suppose it's easier to make radical changes with the LOBs separated, but it's probably more likely that this hastens the end by making the problems even more visible. An acquisition of the Nook business and a quick end to the retail business is probably the best case scenario for investors.

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Tamara Rutter

I've been an analytical writer for The Motley Fool since 2011. I cover the sectors of Consumer Goods, Technology, and Industrials. Connect with me on Twitter using the handle, @TamaraRutter -- I'd love to hear from you!

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8/28/2015 4:01 PM
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