As a consumer, I am a huge fan of Books-A-Million's
But I'm not so keen on the company as an investor. I'll pick up a magazine, but I rarely actually buy a book at a brick-and-mortar shop anymore. Like a growing number of people these days, I buy most of my books online at Amazon.com
Even though I'm not particularly attracted to Books-A-Million as an investment, the company did report solid Q4 results.
In the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2005, whimsically ended Jan. 29 of this year, the company reported that sales edged up 2.9% over the year-ago quarter, to $149.4 million. Same-store sales increased 2.7%. Meanwhile, net income jumped 20.3% to $9.2 million, or $0.54 per share.
In January, Books-A-Million said it would book a $0.03 to $0.05 gain per share on insurance recoveries related to damage done by hurricanes; the company now expects to book the gain during fiscal 2006, rather than in the just-completed quarter. Excluding the one-time benefit from the insurance recovery, the company expects net income to rise from the $0.59 per share it just earned for fiscal 2005 to somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.67 to $0.69 per share in fiscal 2006. The company also predicted first-quarter earnings of $0.03 to $0.05 per share, vs. $0.07 for the same period last year, stating that the estimated decline is partially the result of higher costs for store openings.
The company did see quarterly gross margins climb from 30.1% last year to 31%. Operating margins also improved from 8.5% to 9.7%, helped further by lower interest expense from debt reduction. Overall, I'd say Books-A-Million turned in a very respectable fourth quarter.
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