Barnes & Noble had warned investors that its third-quarter Nook earnings would be disappointing. The earnings report was released before the market opened Thursday morning, and indeed, Nook revenues — consisting of devices and digital content — were down 26 percent, to $316 million, despite the fact that Barnes & Noble released two new tablets during the year. The company attributed the decline primarily to lower device sales. Digital content sales rose slightly, by 6.8 percent. Nook EBITDA losses were $190 million, compared to $83 million a year ago.
The company’s overall revenues for the third quarter of fiscal year 2013 were $2.2 billion, down 8.8 percent over last year. The company saw losses of $6.1 million, or -$0.18 per share, compared to earnings of $0.71 per share a year ago.
Today’s earnings come a few days after B&N’s founder, chairman and largest stockholder, Leonard Riggio, offered to buy the chain’s 689 retail stores and take them private. So how are those stores doing? Not well. Over the holidays, Barnes & Noble bookstore chain saw sales down at its physical stores and at BN.com as well as in the Nook segment. For the quarter, retail sales were $1.5 billion, down 10.3 percent over last year, “attributable to a 7.3% decline in comparable store sales, store closures and lower online sales.” The company did not break out sales at BN.com.
In response to the problems at Nook, Barnes & Noble said in the earnings release that Nook “is calibrating its business model and has implemented a cost reduction program that the company projects will significantly reduce Nook’s expenses.” As a reminder, Nook is the segment of the business that’s supposed to be doing well: Barnes & Noble spun it off, along with the college bookstores, into a subsidiary called Nook Media last year, with investments from Microsoft and Pearson. For fiscal year 2013, the company said it expects Nook Media revenues to be $2.5 billion. Previously, it had estimated revenues of $3 billion for the segment.
In a statement, B&N CEO William Lynch said the company has “taken significant actions to begin to right size our cost structure in the Nook segment, while also taking a large markdown on Nook devices in order to enhance our ability to achieve our estimated sales plans in subsequent quarters.” Lynch said Nook “remains committed” to the tablet and e-reader business, likely in response to a New York Times article earlier this week that cited an unidentified source who said Barnes & Noble would “move away” from building devices.
Lynch also said, “Without question, our bookstores have made a significant contribution to Nook’s success over the past three years. And, in turn, our award-winning line of Nook’s products have proven to be a strong driver of traffic to our stores.”
Barnes & Noble is holding an investor call at 10 a.m. ET, and we will be on the call.