Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) Thursday said quarterly profit exceeded estimates as purchases of books tied to politics and the Iraq war boosted sales, though a debt financing charge dragged net profit lower.

But the company also forecast a slower pace of sales growth at stores open at least a year for the second half of the year, with current quarter profit forecast below analysts estimates.

Barnes & Noble shares were down 75 cents, or 2.4 percent, at $34.24 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

Profit in the second quarter ended July 31 fell to $8.9 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with $13.7 million, or 20 cents a share, a year ago.

Earnings include the company's interest in video game retailer GameStop Corp (search).

Excluding a charge for the early retirement of debt, profit was 24 cents a share, the company said. On that basis, analysts expected on average a 15 cents-a-share profit, compared with the retailer's outlook for 12 cents to 17 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales rose 12.7 percent to $1.45 billion. Bookstore sales rose 3.9 percent to $1.02 billion, even against a tough comparison to a year earlier, when the book "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (search)" was released.

"We attribute the buoyancy in book sales to the release of a few titles that received major media coverage, most notably President (Bill) Clinton's memoir, 'My Life.' The former president's book became the fastest selling nonfiction book in our history, with sales of over 250,000 copies."

The company forecast a 1 percent to 2 percent rise in same-store sales in the third and fourth quarters.

For the third quarter it forecast consolidated profit of 9 cents to 13 cents a share. Analysts on average forecast 16 cents a share.

For the fourth quarter, the company forecast profit of $1.87 to $1.94 a share. Analysts on average forecast $1.92 a share.