The rise of digital media has been tough on bookseller Barnes & Noble (BKS), but until now it appeared as though the company had a chance to turn things around. After Tuesday morning's developments, I believe the company's future is in serious jeopardy. Sales are down, and it is bailing on its tablet business. These two things put together point to a company whose future is in serious jeopardy. I personally do not believe Barnes & Noble is going to be able to remain in business much longer.
With digital media becoming so widespread, Barnes & Noble's entire future has been hinging on the success of its Nook Color tablet, but it appears as though those plans have completely fallen through. The company announced today that it was going to stop manufacturing the Nook Color and instead look for third party manufacturers to co-brand devices.
The fact that Barnes & Noble has decided to abandon the tablet market is a clear indicator that the company is on its way out. The Nook Color tablet never really gained a foothold in the tablet market, and never turned a profit for the company. Amazon (AMZN) was able to break into the tablet market and gobble up huge amounts of market share with the Kindle Fire, but the Nook tablet never enjoyed much success.
Barnes & Noble reported a loss of $2.11 per share Tuesday for its fiscal fourth quarter, much wider than the $0.97 loss that analysts had been expecting. Earnings have been weak for years, but it is becoming hard to imagine any scenario under which Barnes & Noble is going to be able to turn things around.
Adding to the pain being felt by its Nook division, sales in its bookstores also continue to slide. Same-store sales during the quarter were down 8.8% from the same period last year.
With its tablet business collapsing, and sales at bookstores declining, this is one company that is definitely on its way out. Wall Street is punishing the stock, with shares trading down 14.5% in Tuesday's trading.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.