Barnes & Noble posts $2.7M 1Q loss as sales drop

Barnes & Noble said Thursday that persistent weak spending by consumers led to a wider first-quarter loss, but its results beat analysts’ estimates and the bookseller raised its profit forecast for the year.

Investors were not appeased, and the stock dropped 6 percent to $22.50 in premarket trading.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain has eliminated jobs, cut costs and bought e-book retailer Fictionwise, to capture some of the growing market for electronic books. But the company has struggled as shoppers buy fewer books and music, and increasingly shop online.

New York-based Barnes & Noble lost $2.7 million, or 5 cents per share, for the quarter ended May 2. That compares to a loss of $2.2 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time costs, the company lost 4 cents per share, better than the loss of 15 cents per share analysts expected.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $1.11 billion, also better than the $1.08 billion analysts expected.

Barnes & Noble said it expects comparable-store sales at Barnes & Noble stores to fall 5 percent to 7 percent for the second quarter.

But the company said the first quarter was good enough that it was raising its full-year profit estimate to a range of $1.10 to $1.40 a share, from a previous estimate of 95 cents to $1.25 per share. Analysts expect a full-year profit of $1.07 per share.

Barnes & Noble also said it expects comparable store sales at Barnes & Noble stores to decline 3 percent to 5 percent for the full year, better than the previous forecast of a 4 percent to 6 percent drop.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.