Barnes & Noble Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of book and Nook seller Barnes & Noble (NYS: BKS) watched investors close the book on its shares today, as they fell as much as 31% in intraday trading after the company lowered its forecast for full-year results.

So what: On the bright side, sales of B&N's Nook reader were up significantly from last year's holiday season. However, those sales look like they'll miss expectations. Worse, investments that B&N has made to help fuel that growth are also fueling a much-larger-than-expected loss for the year.

If you ask B&N management, though, the Nook business is absolutely one worth owning -- perhaps even on its own. In its comments today, B&N noted that it's exploring strategic options for the Nook business, including spinning it off.

Now what: I have a really tough time getting excited about Barnes & Noble as an investment. On one hand, you have a brick-and-mortar bookseller. It's done better on that side than its bankrupt rival Borders, but it's an imperiled business nonetheless. On the other side, there's a promising growth business in the Nook e-readers. That's a more interesting segment, but it's costly, and it's going head-to-head with (NAS: AMZN) , a company with a balance sheet that outshines B&N's by an extremely wide margin.

Want to keep up to date on Barnes & Noble?Add it to your watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns, and Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying, shares of Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.