Both revenue and profits were down at Barnes & Noble in the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, according to a company filing with the SEC.
Revenue decreased 8.5% to $1.3 billion while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) swung from a profit of $5.8 million to a loss of $8.9 million versus the first quarter a year ago.
While it is expected by investors that the physical retail business will continue to decline slowly, dovetailing with larger trends in the economy, what might be worrisome is the precipitous decline in Barnes & Noble’s Nook business. In the first quarter, it had revenue of $153 million — down 20% from the same period last year. There was a decline in both device sales and content sales (see below). The company blamed unfavorable comparisons with sales of blockbuster hits Fifty Shades and Hunger Games last year; excluding those two series, content sales were up 6.9%.
See more financial results in the release below.
In other company news, company chairman Len Riggio has “suspended” his efforts to acquire the retail operation of the company and take it private. In February, amid chaos at the company due to falling revenue and profits at the company’s Nook division and a strategic realignment, Riggio announced his intention to acquire the retail chain of bookstores and take them private.
“While I reserve the right to pursue an offer in the future, I believe it is in the company’s best interests to focus on the business at hand,” said Riggio in a filing with the SEC. “Right now our priority should be to serve the more than 10 million customers who own Nook devices, to concentrate on building our retail business, and to accelerate the sale of Nook products in our stores, and in the marketplace.”
For the past several quarters, Barnes & Noble has been struggling. The company’s Nook digital media business, in particular, has been a drag on earnings. Last quarter, the company announced that it would no longer create Nook tablets and instead focus on e-reader devices.
For now, the company has said that its main priority is generating more revenue from content sales.
“Our top priority in our operating strategy is to increase all categories of our content revenue. We are working on innovative ways to sell content to our existing customers and are exploring new markets we can serve successfully,” said Michael P. Huseby, president of Barnes & Noble and CEO Nook Media, in a statement. He added that the company would release at least one new Nook black-and-white e-reader product this year.
Barnes & Noble Reports Fiscal 2014 First Quarter Financial Results
Confirms Commitment to NOOK® Device and Content Business
New NOOK Products Planned
Company Financial Position Remains Solid
Company Receives Withdrawal Notice from Chairman Regarding Schedule 13D filing
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS) today reported sales and earnings for its fiscal 2014 first quarter ended July 27, 2013.
First quarter consolidated revenues decreased 8.5%, to $1.3 billion, compared to the prior year. The first quarter consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) loss was $8.9 million, compared to positive EBITDA of $5.8 million a year ago.
The Retail segment, which consists of the Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com businesses, had revenues of $1.0 billion for the quarter, a decrease of 9.9% from the prior year. The sales decrease was attributable to a comparable store sales decrease of 9.1% for the quarter, store closures and lower online sales, in line with company expectations. First quarter comparable bookstore sales decreased, reflecting lower NOOK device unit volume and a title lineup last year that included unusually strong sales from The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies. “Core” comparable bookstore sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, decreased 7.2% for the quarter. Excluding the impact of the two mentioned trilogies, Core comparable bookstore sales decreased 2.9%.
Retail generated EBITDA of $65 million in the quarter, a decline of $12 million compared to a year ago, as a result of the sales decline noted above.
The College segment had revenues of $226 million during a period that did not include a back-to-school rush season, increasing 2.4% compared to a year ago, as a result of new store growth. Comparable College store sales decreased 1.2% for the quarter, reflecting the retail selling price of new or used textbooks when rented, rather than solely the rental fees received and amortized over the rental period.
College EBITDA losses were $19 million, compared to losses of $14 million last year. The difference reflected new store expenses and investments in digital education, primarily additional product development costs in accordance with the company’s plans to introduce additional digital products to the higher education market under its partnership with Pearson.
The NOOK segment, which consists of the company’s digital business (including devices, digital content and accessories), reported revenues of $153 million for the quarter, a decrease of 20.2% from a year ago. Device and accessories sales were $84 million for the quarter, a decrease of 23.1% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume. Digital content sales were $69 million for the quarter, a decline of 15.8% compared to a year ago, due in part to lower device unit sales as well as the comparison to The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies. Excluding the impact of these two titles, digital content sales decreased 6.9%.
Despite the sales decline, NOOK EBITDA losses of $55 million were comparable to the prior year, as lower gross margins were offset by expense reductions.
The consolidated first quarter net loss was $87.0 million, or $1.56 per share, compared to a loss of $39.8 million, or $0.76 per share, in the prior year.
The wider loss was driven by the EBITDA decline, as well as higher income tax expense. Under applicable accounting guidance, given the significance of cumulative losses in recent years, the company recorded a non-cash valuation allowance against certain deferred tax assets. The impact of this item on first quarter results was $41 million, or $0.70 per share. Excluding this tax item, first quarter losses would have been $0.86 per share.
The company reaffirms its previously issued full-year guidance, in which it expects Retail comparable store sales to decline in the high single digits and College comparable store sales to decline in the low single digits. The company also expects full-year Core Retail comparable bookstore sales to decline in the low- to mid-single digits.
The company ended the first quarter with a net cash position of $73 million, reducing bank borrowings by $295 million compared to a year ago. In fiscal 2013, despite the NOOK segment losses, the company improved the strength of its balance sheet as a result of the cash flow generated by the Retail and College businesses, as well as funds received from strategic investments in NOOK Media.
Board Chairman Files Schedule 13D Amendment
The company said its Chairman, Leonard Riggio, has advised the Board of Directors that he has suspended his efforts to make an offer for the company’s Retail business. Mr. Riggio expressed a plan to make such an offer when he amended his Schedule 13D on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February.
In an amended SEC filing today, Mr. Riggio said, “While I reserve the right to pursue an offer in the future, I believe it is in the company’s best interests to focus on the business at hand. Right now our priority should be to serve the more than 10 million customers who own NOOK devices, to concentrate on building our Retail business, and to accelerate the sale of NOOK products in our stores, and in the marketplace.”
“Our top priority in our operating strategy is to increase all categories of our content revenue. We are working on innovative ways to sell content to our existing customers and are exploring new markets we can serve successfully,” said Michael P. Huseby, President of Barnes & Noble, Inc. and Chief Executive Officer of NOOK Media. “The company intends to continue to design and develop cutting-edge NOOK black and white and color devices. We will continue to offer our award-winning line of NOOK products including NOOK Simple Touch®, NOOK Simple Touch® with Glow Light®, NOOK® HD and NOOK® HD+ at the best values in the marketplace. At least one new NOOK device will be released for the coming holiday season and further products are in development. All NOOK devices will continue to be backed by world-class pre- and post-sales support in Barnes & Noble stores, as well as ongoing software upgrades and improvements to the digital bookstore service.”
A conference call with Barnes & Noble, Inc.’s senior management will be webcast beginning at 10:00 A.M. ET on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, and is accessible at www.barnesandnobleinc.com/webcasts.
About Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) is a Fortune 500 company and the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The company operates 674 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, and one of the Web’s largest e-commerce sites, BN.com (www.bn.com). Its NOOK Media LLC subsidiary is a leader in the emerging digital reading and digital education markets. The NOOK digital business offers award-winning NOOK® products and an expansive collection of digital reading and entertainment content through the NOOK Store™ (www.nook.com), while Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC operates 692 bookstores serving over 4.6 million students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the United States. Barnes & Noble is proud to be named a J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 50 U.S. companies so named. Barnes & Noble.com is ranked the number one online retailer in customer satisfaction in the book, music and video category and a Top 10 online retailer overall in customer satisfaction according to ForeSee E-Retail Satisfaction Index (Spring Top 100 Edition).
General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained via the Internet by visiting the company’s corporate website: www.barnesandnobleinc.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements (within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) and information relating to Barnes & Noble that are based on the beliefs of the management of Barnes & Noble as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to the management of Barnes & Noble. When used in this communication, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “forecasts,” “projections,” and similar expressions, as they relate to Barnes & Noble or the management of Barnes & Noble, identify forward-looking statements.
Such statements reflect the current views of Barnes & Noble with respect to future events, the outcome of which is subject to certain risks, including, among others, the general economic environment and consumer spending patterns, decreased consumer demand for Barnes & Noble’s products, low growth or declining sales and net income due to various factors, risk that international expansion will not be successfully achieved or may be achieved later than expected, possible disruptions in Barnes & Noble’s computer systems, telephone systems or supply chain, possible risks associated with data privacy, information security and intellectual property, possible work stoppages or increases in labor costs, possible increases in shipping rates or interruptions in shipping service, effects of competition, possible risks that inventory in channels of distribution may be larger than able to be sold, possible risks associated with changes in the strategic direction of the device business, including possible reduction in sales of content, accessories and other merchandise and other adverse financial impacts, possible risk that component parts will be rendered obsolete or otherwise not be able to be effectively utilized in devices to be sold, possible risk that financial and operational forecasts and projections are not achieved, possible risk that returns from consumers or channels of distribution may be greater than estimated, the risk that digital sales growth is less than expectations and the risk that it does not exceed the rate of investment spend, higher-than-anticipated store closing or relocation costs, higher interest rates, the performance of Barnes & Noble’s online, digital and other initiatives, the success of Barnes & Noble’s strategic investments, unanticipated increases in merchandise, component or occupancy costs, unanticipated adverse litigation results or effects, product and component shortages, the potential adverse impact on the Company’s businesses resulting from the review of strategic alternatives and a potential separation of the Company’s businesses, the risk that the transactions with Microsoft and Pearson do not achieve the expected benefits for the parties or impose costs on the Company in excess of what the Company anticipates, including the risk that NOOK Media’s applications are not commercially successful or that the expected distribution of those applications is not achieved, other risks associated with the international expansion contemplated by the relationship with Microsoft, including that it is not successful or is delayed, the risk that NOOK Media is not able to perform its obligations under the Microsoft and Pearson commercial agreements and the consequences thereof, risks associated with the restatement contained in, the delayed filing of, and the material weakness in internal controls described in Barnes & Noble’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 27, 2013 and associated risks and other factors which may be outside of Barnes & Noble’s control, including those factors discussed in detail in Item 1A, “Risk Factors,” in Barnes & Noble’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 27, 2013, and in Barnes & Noble’s other filings made hereafter from time to time with the SEC. Our forward looking statements relating to international expansion are also subject to the following risks, among others that may affect the introduction, success and timing of the NOOK e-reader and content in countries outside the United States: we may not be successful in reaching agreements with international companies, the terms of agreements that we reach may not be advantageous to us, our NOOK device may require technological changes to comply with applicable laws, and marketplace acceptance and other companies have already entered the marketplace with products that have achieved some customer acceptance.
Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results or outcomes may vary materially from those described as anticipated, believed, estimated, expected, intended or planned. Subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to Barnes & Noble or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements in this paragraph. Barnes & Noble undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise after the date of this communication.