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Why Barnes & Noble, Inc. Stock Plunged Today

By Steve Symington - Jan 5, 2018 at 2:30PM

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The bookselling retail chain endured a difficult holiday season. Here's what investors need to know.

What happened

Shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (BKS) were down 14.2% as of 11:30 a.m. EST Friday after the bookseller announced disappointing holiday-season sales.

More specifically, late yesterday Barnes & Noble revealed that total sales for the nine-week holiday period ending Dec. 30, 2017 declined 6.4% year over year to $953 million. That included a 6.4% decline in comparable-store sales, and a 4.5% dip in online sales.

Barnes & Noble store front

IMAGE SOURCE: BARNES & NOBLE.

So what

Barnes & Noble also noted that it entered the month of December "encouraged" by its comparable-store sales improvements throughout the fiscal second quarter -- though to be fair, those results were technically announced in late November, causing shares to plunge almost 12% the following day in response. But things took a turn for the worse as the year came to a close, with lower traffic leading to softening sales for the full month of December.

Digging deeper, weakness in the gift, music, and DVD categories accounted for almost half of the comparable-store sales decline. Similar to fiscal Q2, Barnes & Noble's book business outperformed the rest but still saw its sales fall 4.5%.

Now what

As such, Barnes & Noble now expects comparable-store sales for the full fiscal year to be down in the mid-single-digit percent range, which should translate to consolidated EBITDA of $140 million to $160 million. Previously, Barnes & Noble predicted its full-year EBITDA would arrive closer to $180 million.

Nonetheless, Barnes & Noble insists it remains focused on executing its strategic turnaround plan, including aggressive expense management initiatives. But given news of its painful performance in arguably the most crucial time of the year, it's no surprise to see shares plunging again today.

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