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Bookseller's outlook falls short

March 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Barnes & Noble Inc., the nation's largest bookseller, forecast profit and sales for this fiscal year that were well below analysts' estimates, sending its shares down 11% on Monday.

The New York-based retailer reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the year ended Feb. 3 despite disappointing sales. It also said it was closing its Internet distribution center located in Memphis, Tenn.

After that facility is closed, all Internet orders will be handled by the company's new distribution center in Monroe, N.J., and its Reno, Nev., facility. About 200 jobs will be eliminated as a result, a spokeswoman said.

The company said that for the current fiscal year, it expected earnings per share in the range of $1.65 to $1.80. Including charges for the distribution center closing and legal fees, full-year earnings are expected to be $1.49 to $1.67 a share.

But analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings per share of $2.41 before charges.

The company also expects full-year sales to be $4.6 billion to $4.7 billion. Analysts had been projecting annual sales of $5.44 billion. Same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, should be unchanged to slightly positive for the year.

Barnes & Noble shares fell $4.56 to $35.56.

Barnes & Noble said that the earnings shortfall was because of the company's move to reinvest a portion of its cash flow in rewarding its best customers with lower prices.

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