New York, NY (March 3, 2008) — Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today reported sales for the fourth quarter and the full year ended February 2, 2008.
Barnes & Noble store sales were $1,511 million for the quarter and $4,648 million for the full year. Excluding the impact of the extra week during fiscal 2006, Barnes & Noble store sales increased 2.8% for the quarter and 4.3% for the full year as compared to the same periods in fiscal 2006. Comparable store sales decreased 0.5% for the quarter and increased 1.8% for the year.
Barnes & Noble.com sales were $177 million for the quarter and $477 million for the full year. Excluding the impact of the extra week during fiscal 2006, Barnes & Noble.com comparable sales increased 13.1% for the quarter and 13.4% for the full year as compared to the same periods in fiscal 2006.
Consolidated sales were $1,846 million for the fourth quarter and $5,411 million for the full year.
The company is updating its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2007 guidance to $1.76 to $1.82 and $1.99 to $2.05, respectively, primarily due to two non-operating benefits received in January 2008. These benefits, comprised of property insurance and litigation settlements, totaled $6.3 million on an after-tax basis ($0.10 per share for the fourth quarter and $0.09 per share for the full year). Excluding these non-operating items, fourth quarter and fiscal year 2007 earnings per share are expected to be in the middle of the previously issued guidance range of $1.57 to $1.76 and $1.81 to $1.99, respectively. The company expects to announce final 2007 results on March 20, 2008.
The company’s free cash flow (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, less capital expenditures, interest and taxes, and any change in working capital) is forecast to be higher than guidance. Free cash flow in 2007 is approximately $190 million, higher than the previous guidance of $150 million.
The company repurchased 6.9 million shares in 2007 for $248.3 million under its share repurchase plan, of which approximately $200 million remains available under the existing authorization. The company’s year-end cash balance is approximately $360 million and there are no outstanding borrowings under its credit facility.
The company believes that recessionary pressures in this uncertain economic environment will make 2008 an especially challenging retail year. The company’s post-holiday sales trends have continued into the first quarter of 2008 and the bookselling environment remains very competitive. In 2008 the company will face difficult sales comparisons against last year's record-setting sales of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and improved hardcover sales, notably Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which was the best selling non-fiction book and DVD in the company's history. As a result, the company currently expects comparable store sales to be slightly positive for the full year.
Given this environment, the company is focusing its efforts on managing its expenses and working capital with a realistic view of market conditions, as well as continuing to refine its marketing strategies and grow the Member program to maximize top line growth profitably. Based on this outlook, the company expects full year earnings per share to range from $1.70 to $1.90, approximately flat with 2007 on an operating basis. Non-operating items in 2007 results include the two settlements, previously noted, as well as the $8.0 million tax benefit recorded in the company's second quarter.
The company believes that its strong balance sheet and free cash flow will provide the flexibility to compete effectively in 2008 as well as continue to return value to shareholders through its share repurchase and dividend programs. The company also believes that it is well positioned to take advantage of any upside to its sales forecast should economic conditions or the retail business environment become more positive.