Barnes & Noble meets expectations

Blaming weak holiday sales, Barnes & Noble (BKS) reported that its fourth-quarter earnings before charges dropped nearly 20 percent to US$1.21 per share, in line with analysts' estimates.

The company expects weaker first-half sales for this year compared with 2000, when sales of Harry Potter books at Barnes & Noble stores and high-margin Pokemon card sales pushed sales figures up.

Fiscal 2000 retail sales slid to $109.5 million ($1.69 per share) down from $122.7 million ($1.72) in the same period a year ago. Consolidated net earnings before a one-time charge were $68.1 million ($1.06).

Bookstore sales for 2000 increased 9 percent to $3.6 billion, while superstore sales rose 12.3 percent to $3.2 billion. Barnesandnoble.com, a joint venture created with Bertelsmann, saw its sales soar 65 percent to $320 million in fiscal 2000. By comparison, sales at Amazon.com (AMZN) rose 68 percent to $2.76 billion during the same period.

The company projected consolidated earnings per share to grow 50 percent to $1.61 for 2001. Comparable store sales are expected to increase between 4 percent to 5 percent.

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