In its fiscal second quarter, Borders widened its loss to $51.6 million, or $0.74 per share. Last year at this time, it reported a loss of $0.75 per share.
Borders' total sales sagged 11.5%, to $526.1 million, and same-store sales dropped 6.8%. Online sales increased 56.2%, but only add up to an uninspiring $15.5 million. Gross margin fell to 19.3% of sales from 23%, in part because of the bookseller's drive to provide promotional discounts.
Look out for continued deteriorating profit margins. Capital expenditures surged to $7.7 million from $1.2 million this time last year, as the company focused on developing the Borders eBook Store, among other things.
In addition, Borders is cutting the price of its Kobo e-reader. It really has no choice, since Amazon.com
Formidable rivals like Apple and Amazon make this a very difficult competitive climate for Borders and Barnes & Noble, even if folks are rekindling a love for the written word as reading gets "cool" again. Amazon recently announced that the Kindle will be available not only on its website and at retailer Target
Both Borders and Barnes & Noble are horrorshow stock ideas, given the destructive nature of their industry's margin-busting competitive climate. At least consumers get a break: All this competition means that both e-readers and physical books are getting cheaper. Many physical books are now available at places like Borders for less than the e-book versions. That's good for bargain hunters, but bad for Borders and Barnes & Noble long-term.
Investors need to read between the lines, and realize that this story doesn't seem to foreshadow a happy ending for bookseller stocks.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Fool has a disclosure policy.