Archive for November, 2010

B&N loss narrows; e-book push weighs on outlook

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | Finance News

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NEW YORK – Barnes & Noble Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter loss narrowed, but results missed expectations and the book seller issued a weak outlook as it continued to invest in an effort to sell more electronic books.

The company said Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday, was a bright spot in the current quarter, with revenue in stores open at least a year up 17.2 percent. But it forecast third-quarter and full-year results below expectations, and shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading.

The largest U.S. traditional book seller is hoping its growing e-book business will help offset tough competition from online retailers and discount chains.

Barnes & Noble said its loss narrowed to $12.6 million, or 22 cents per share.

That compares with $24 million, or 43 cents per share, last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a smaller loss of 8 cents per share.

Barnes & Noble had expected anywhere between a profit of 5 cents per share to a loss of 25 cents per share for the quarter.

Revenue jumped 64 percent to nearly $1.91 billion. Analysts expected $1.98 billion. Revenue rose just 1 percent excluding the company's acquisition of its college book unit.

Revenue in stores open at least a year fell 3.3 percent. The figure is considered key because it excludes results from stores that open or close during the year.

The bookseller said it continues to "invest heavily" in digital initiatives related to its recently introduced color Nook electronic e-reader and its digital catalog. It is creating interactive content for children's books and developing applications for e-readers and smart phones beyond the Nook.

Barnes & Noble's Nookcolor competes with Amazon's Kindle and other readers.

By its own estimates, Barnes & Noble said it has 20 percent of the eBook market since it launched its digital bookstore last year.

"We have plans to grow our share well beyond 20 percent, and the early success of Nookcolor is encouraging," said CEO William Lynch.

The company predicts revenue in stores open at least a year will rise between 5 percent and 7 percent in the third quarter, and to be flat to up 3 percent for the full year. But rather than traditional books, Barnes & Noble expects revenue increases to be largely driven by sales of Nook devices and accessories, and by increases in children's products and other non-book items.

The company expects third-quarter net income between 90 cents to $1.20 per share, below analyst predictions of $1.29 per share.

It expects a loss of 75 cents to $1.15 for the year, while analysts expect a loss of 40 cents per share.

The bookseller recently fought and won a proxy battle against activist investor billionaire Ron Burkle to install a poison pill plan limiting investors to a 20 percent stake. That plan was ratified by shareholders two weeks ago.

Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale during the process. The company said it is meeting with "both strategic and financial institutions," but said the review might not result in a sale or any other deal.

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Home prices falling faster in most metro areas

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | Finance News

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NEW YORK – Home prices are falling faster in the nation's largest cities, and a record number of foreclosures are expected to push prices down further through next year.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday fell 0.7 percent in September from August. Eighteen of the cities recorded monthly price declines.

Cleveland recorded the largest decline. Prices there dropped 3 percent from a month earlier. Prices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, which had been showing strength this year, also dropped in September from August.

Washington and Las Vegas were the only metro areas to post gains in monthly prices.

The 20-city index has risen 5.9 percent from their April 2009 bottom. But it remains nearly 28.6 percent below its July 2006 peak.

And home prices have fallen in 15 of the 20 cities in the past year.

Prices rose in many cities from April through July, mostly boosted by government tax credits which have since expired. Job worries and record high foreclosures are dampening buyer demand and weighing on prices.

The national quarterly index, which measures home prices in the nine U.S. census regions, dropped 2 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter.

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September home prices fall faster than expected

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | Finance News

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prices of single-family homes in September fell more than twice as fast as expected from the prior month, while prices compared to a year earlier rose more slowly than forecast, according a widely watched index of U.S. home prices released on Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.8 percent in September from August on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a decline of 0.3 percent.

S&P, which publishes the indexes, also said home prices in the 20 cities index rose 0.6 percent from September 2009, slower than the 1.1 percent expected.

(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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