NEW YORK – Barnes & Noble Inc. (BN), the nation's largest bookseller, announced a 13 percent profit decline in the first quarter because of its spinoff of its GameStop division, but forecast second-quarter results above Wall Street expectations due to the expected arrival of the sixth "Harry Potter (search)" book in July.
For the three months ended April 30, Barnes & Noble earned $9.9 million, or 13 cents per share, down from $11.4 million, or 16 cents per share, a year earlier.
Barnes & Noble had predicted earnings ranging from 11 cents to 13 cents per share and analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for profit at the low end of this guidance — 11 cents per share on sales of $1.1 billion.
The company's earnings from continuing operations — which exclude a year-ago gain from its now spun-off GameStop (search) business — rose substantially. Excluding this item, earnings would have grown 37 percent.
Total sales grew 4 percent to $1.1 billion from $1.06 billion.
The company said same-store sales, which are sales at stores opened at least 12 months, rose 2.2 percent for the period. The company had forecast an increase in the low single-digit percentages.
Barnes & Noble total store sales were $959.2 million, up 5 percent from the prior year, while B. Dalton's (search) sales declined 21 percent to $31.5 million as the company continued to close those stores. Barnes & Noble.com sales were $91.4 million, a 0.6 percent decline from the year-ago period.
The bookseller predicted that the arrival of the sixth "Harry Potter" book in mid-July will boost second-quarter sales, and it forecast earnings of 19 cents to 21 cents per share. That assumes same-store sales growth in the mid-single digit percentages.
Analysts currently expect second-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share.
Barnes & Noble backed its year-end outlook for earnings of $1.94 to $1.98 per share with same-store sales growing by about 3 percent. Analysts are looking for profit of $1.93 per share.
Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 21 cents to $35.67 on the New York Stock Exchange, near the high end of a 52-week range of $24.77 to $37.58.