Here's how a seller got its groove back. Barnes & Noble
But things haven't worked out so well online. When Barnes & Noble launched its dot-com storefront on AOL Time Warner's
A year later, management nonetheless found a ready investor in Bertelsmann AG and the pair took Barnesandnoble.com
Last night, Barnes & Noble announced intentions to buy back the 37% stake still owned by Bertelsmann for $164 million. That's a slight premium to the market price but considerably less than the $200 million Bertelsmann originally invested back in 1998.
In any event, Barnes & Noble will hold a 75% interest in the eponymous dot-com store. Is that a big deal? It can be.
True, while Amazon grew its sales by 26% last year, Barnesandnoble.com managed a meager 4.5%. However, Barnesandnoble.com managed to shave its operating expenses in half. Thus, while Barnes & Noble will take a hit ($0.11 per share) this year to absorb the larger chunk of the dot-com store, it expects Barnesandnoble.com to be consistently cash-flow positive by the holiday quarter and in fiscal 2004.
You have every right to be skeptical, but the online landscape is beginning to embrace the offline retailers. Discounters Wal-Mart
Fetching just 11 times next year's profit projections, there's tremendous upside if Barnesandnoble.com can right its wrongs. If so, this should be another happy ending.
Will Barnesandnoble.com ever pose a threat to Amazon (or was David Gardner right in making Amazon a top pick in Motley Fool Stock Advisor )? Is the battle for mindshare over and Barnes' wit dimmed? Why did Barnesandnoble.com roll out the exact same $25 threshold for free shipping as Amazon? All this and more -- in the Amazon discussion board. Only on Fool.com.