Sales Are Down, But Profits Are Up for Books-A-Million

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Books-A-Million (BAMM), the country's third-largest retail bookstore chain, released its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, and the news was something of a split decision. Sales dropped 4.6% to $157.2 million compared to the same period a year ago, while comparable store sales decreased 6% for the quarter. For the year, net sales were $508.7 million, a 1.3% drop from last year's $515.4 million, and comp store sales decreased 3.6%

But profits were up: $11.9 million (or 76 cents per diluted share) for the period, which ended Jan. 30, -- a 30.1% increase -- and $13.8 million (or 88 cents per share) for the year.

In a statement, Chairman and CEO Clyde Anderson said, "Despite the challenging sales environment throughout the past year, we are pleased with our ability to grow earnings for the quarter and the year. We remain focused on maintaining fiscal discipline as we look forward to an improving economic climate in the year ahead." Anderson also told Publishers Weekly that he attributed the sales decline to a combination of the weak economy and a drop in sales for Stephenie Meyer's Twilight titles. He also told PW that the company is working on its entry into the e-book market; more details about that are expected soon.

Books-A-Million approved a quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents per share and an additional cash dividend of 10 cents per share for a total cash dividend of 15 cents per share, to be paid to stockholders on April 8. The company also announced a program to buy back up to $5 million worth of its common stock during the next year, replacing a simlar buy-back program set to expire on April 30.
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