Who would've guessed? America, home of the automatic garage door opener, the remote control, and discs that literally (pun) read books to you -- home, in short, to some of the laziest people on earth -- still reads books of the paper-and-ink variety.
Or so the earnings results posted yesterday by Motley Fool Hidden Gems "Tiny Gems" nominee Books-A-Million
Books CEO Sandra B. Cochran attributed much of the quarter's success to the runaway popularity of one book in particular -- the sixth installment of the Harry Potter saga. Then again, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Only three weeks ago, Potter publisher Scholastic
Even so, it bears pointing out that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince went on sale in July (near the end of Q2), so it didn't affect Q1 at all. Yet Books was doing pretty well this year even before Potter turbocharged the company's sales. In fact, through the first half of this year, Books' sales were up nearly as well as in Q2 alone -- posting a better-than-6% improvement over the first half of fiscal 2004. Likewise, profits increased a most respectable 24% over the numbers Books posted in 1H 2004.
I don't know about you, but by this point in the story, I'm starting to get mighty interested in Books-A-Million. Sales growth in a slow-growth industry, banner profits, and a 2.8% dividend to boot? I can't wait to see the next page.
Sadly, though, I'll have to, and you will, too. Because that's just about all the information Books provided its investors in yesterday's press release. Oh, there were some odds and ends about projected numbers for next quarter, and evidence of a decreasing share count -- but as for inventory numbers, accounts-receivable data, and the all-important cash flow statement, none of those were included in the company's earnings release.
So, for now, we'll have to wait until the release of the company's 10-Q filing, which should contain all of the above, before concluding whether Books-A-Million has all the magic of its jackpot series.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares in any company named above.