The stock is down about 6.5% in early trading following the leading bookstore chain’s earnings report that left open questions about whether it can keep up with online rivals led by Amazon that continue to take market share. Helped by $2.8M in dividends received from preferred shares, Barnes & Noble reported net income of $2.2M for the quarter ending in October — up from a $6.6M loss a year ago — on revenues of $1.88B, -0.4%. The revenue figure is slightly lower than the $1.91B that analysts expected. But excluding the dividend, the net loss attributable to B&N of 4 cents a share beat the Street’s forecast of a 6 cent loss. At the retail unit, which includes the bookstores and book sales at BN.com, revenues fell 2.9% to $996M. The company says that last year’s numbers were helped after Borders liquidated. But in stores open at least a year, sales (not including its NOOK eReaders and tablets) were up 1.8%. In college textbooks B&N revenues were up 0.4% to $773M. Meanwhile the NOOK operation — which includes the hardware as well as digital content — remains a mixed story: Revenues were up 5.6% to $160.3M but it still generates a cash flow loss as B&N invests in new products and overseas expansion. The company says that NOOK unit sales doubled in last week’s four day Black Friday period vs last year — which matches Amazon’s experience with its Kindles. Walmart and Target heavily promoted the NOOK. But B&N adds that if you exclude NOOKs, its retail sales fell slightly over the weekend. The company’s new NOOK HD products and partnership with Microsoft to promote Windows 8 will “further fuel the growth of our digital business,” CEO William Lynch says.
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