Instant Analysis: Barnes & Noble Releases Holiday Sales Figures

By Markets Fool.com

What happened?
Barnes & Noble has posted its results from the holiday period, which it defines as the nine-week stretch ending this past Jan. 2. For the period, total retail sales amounted to $1.1 billion, 0.8% lower on a year-over-year basis.

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"Core" comparable-store sales (i.e., excluding sales of NOOK e-readers and associated products) rose by 1.6% on a year-over-year basis, which the company didn't hesitate to say was the second holiday season in a row the metric increased. With NOOK goods included, comparable store sales crept up by 0.8%.

It's no wonder there was such a difference. When teased out from the broader results, NOOK sales recorded a steep decline -- by nearly 26% to just over $41 million.

Looking ahead, the company reiterated its guidance for fiscal 2016. It still believes comparable-store sales growth will be more or less flat, with core comps rising by around 1%.

Does it matter?
Life isn't easy for bricks-and-mortar retailers these days; Barnes & Noble is Exhibit A. The company still has a very strong physical presence, in the form of its many big stores. The cost of keeping those places open and staffed makes it tougher to compete against the likes of a slick, online-heavy operator like Amazon.com. No wonder Barnes & Noble has posted net losses in four out of its five previous fiscal years. The NOOK line was an honest attempt to carve out a niche in the digital space, but the market for dedicated e-readers isn't what it used to be, not least because there is a flood of other products on the market that allow readers to consume e-literature.

So, looked at a certain way, the company deserves some credit for showing any growth at all. But that isn't impressive enough to give any oomph to the stock price, which at under $9 per share continues to tease its one-year low and is down by nearly 44% since Jan. 2015.

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The article Instant Analysis: Barnes & Noble Releases Holiday Sales Figures originally appeared on Fool.com.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com, and owns shares of Barnes & Noble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.