Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) released better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter 2017 results on Thursday, but that's not to say the bookseller's performance was great. The company remains unprofitable -- though its losses continued to narrow -- and comparable-store sales are still declining. But Barnes & Noble is gladly turning the page by looking at ways to spur its ongoing turnaround in the year ahead.

In the meantime, let's take a closer look at what Barnes & Noble accomplished in its latest quarter.

Barnes & Noble storefront.


Barnes & Noble results: The raw numbers


Fiscal Q4 2017

Fiscal Q4 2016

Year-Over-Year Growth


$821.2 billion

$876.7 billion


Net income (loss)

($13.4 million)

($30.6 million)


Earnings (loss) per share




Data source: Barnes & Noble.

What happened with Barnes & Noble this quarter?

  • Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) were $3.98 million compared to an EBITDA loss of $25.96 million in the same year-ago period, as retail EBITDA of $8.24 million was offset by a $4.26 million EBITDA loss from the NOOK segment.
  • Full-year EBITDA was $187.2 million, up slightly from $185.7 million last fiscal year and within Barnes & Noble's latest guidance for a range of $180 million to $190 million. 
  • Retail sales, including Barnes & Noble stores and, declined 6.3%, to $796.2 million, including a 6.3% decline in comparable-store sales and 2.9% growth in online sales.
  • NOOK segment sales, which includes digital content, devices, and accessories, fell 23.7%, to just under $32 million.
  • The company ended the year with just under $12 million in cash and equivalents, and $64.9 million in debt under the company's $750 million credit facility.

What management had to say

"While fiscal 2017 proved to be a challenging year for the company, we reduced costs by $137 million, enabling us to sustain our profitability level," stated Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros. "In fiscal 2018, we are focusing on ways to improve the business and reignite sales through an aggressive test and learn process and companywide simplification process that will take out costs."

Looking forward 

More specifically, during the subsequent conference call, Parneros elaborated that Barnes & Noble is exploring "every possible way to ignite sales," including various initiatives to increase conversions, change store layouts, enhance membership programs, and introduce creative marketing and promotional offers. All in all, in the coming year, Parneros added, Barnes & Noble is aiming to "maintain [its] current level of profitability while planting the seeds for future growth."

As such, Barnes & Noble told investors to expect comparable-bookstore sales to decline in the low-single-digit percent range in fiscal 2018, which should result in full-year consolidated EBITDA of roughly $180 million.

Barnes & Noble has plenty of hard work ahead as it continues to cut costs and inch back toward sustained, profitable growth. But this quarter appears to be at least a step in the right direction. Shares touched a fresh 52-week low on Wednesday, just ahead of this report, so it's no surprise to see that Barnes & Noble stock rebounded on Thursday.