Is There Hope for Barnes & Noble?

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I wasn't impressed with Barnes & Noble's (NYS: BKS) first-quarter results, and investors clearly aren't too pleased with today's second-quarter earnings release either, since shares lost as much as 24% today before closing off more than 16%.

Total revenue for the quarter came in at $1.89 billion, which is a slight decline from a year ago. What's weighing on shareholders today is that the company cranked out a net loss of $0.17 per share, an ominous shade of red compared with the $0.03 profit that the market was expecting. Sales also fell short of the $2 billion that analysts were modeling for.

B&N's retail-store sales fell by 1%, and comparable sales dropped 0.6%. BN.com continued to show the most top-line growth, coming in at 17%, with corresponding comps jumping 38%. The increase was attributed to strength in digital-content sales and Nook device sales. Last month, the bookseller launched a new Nook tablet to directly battle Amazon.com's (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire and in hopes of indirectly stealing some sales from Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPad.

The company said the Nook Tablet is now the fastest-selling Nook product. The consolidated Nook business across all segments soared 85% to $220 million, which includes content sales, hardware, and accessories. The three-day holiday weekend saw comps rising by 10.9%, giving hope for a healthy holiday shopping season.

The fiscal quarter ended in October, so the impact of the Nook Tablet launch and the holiday weekend won't show up until the next release. I found myself inside a B&N store over the Thanksgiving weekend playing with the Nook Tablet on display, which coincidentally was set up to mimic Apple's retail displays. I was thoroughly unimpressed by the device and found its overall interface relatively unresponsive compared with an iPad.

In fairness, I'm somewhat biased as an Amazon.com and Apple shareholder, but I imagine the responsiveness to be equally lacking on the Kindle Fire, based on some early reviews, although I haven't gotten my hands on one yet.

Going forward, B&N expects full-year EBITDA on the low end of its previously guided range of $210 million to $250 million.

The bookseller continues to desperately reinvent itself as a digital powerhouse, undoubtedly heeding some advice from distribution specialist and investorLiberty Media (NAS: LMCA) . The BN.com division continues to burn cash -- losing $58.9 million in EBITDA this quarter -- despite revenue growth as Barnes & Noble is investing and hoping its big bet on digital will pay off. Sorry, B&N, but I think you're too late to the digital party.

To see how everything pans out and find out whether today's sell-off is justified, please feel free to add any of these companies to My Watchlist using the following links. The service is free and will keep you updated about any news, events, and analysis that affects your favorite companies.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Amazon.com and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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