Barnes & Noble Posts Slims Profit, Raises Forecast

Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) posted a slim third-quarter profit on Thursday, as strong sales of hardcover books helped to offset costs related to a new distribution center.

The company also raised its full-year earnings forecast, citing strong results so far and a lower share count due to share buybacks.

Profit was $327,000, or nil per share, in the third quarter ended October 29, down from $7.6 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Barnes & Noble had forecast a loss of 1 cent to 4 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected a loss of 2 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The New York-based company said that the quarter included costs of 3 cents per share related to the distribution center.

Sales rose 4 percent to $1.08 billion. Sales at Barnes & Noble stores were also up 4 percent, to $930.5 million, while same-store sales at Barnes & Noble rose 1.5 percent.

Sales at the company's B. Dalton stores fell 21 percent to $28.4 million, due mainly to store closings, with same-store sales at that chain down 1.6 percent. Sales at Barnes & rose 8 percent to $99.4 million.

Barnes & Noble expects to post a fourth-quarter profit of $1.72 to $1.76 per share, including about 3 cents per share in costs related to the new distribution center.

For the full year, it now expects to earn $1.99 to $2.03 per share, up from a previous outlook of $1.94 to $1.98.

Analysts, on average, currently call for a profit of $1.68 per share in the fourth quarter and $1.99 per share this year.

The company said its full-year forecast includes charges of 2 cents per share related to financing and 6 cents in legal settlement costs, both of which occurred in the second quarter. It also includes 8 cents per share in costs related to the new distribution center.

The company expects further costs related to the new facility through 2006 as its transition program is completed.