January 15-31, 2004 Edition

Barnes & Noble Shares

Show Impressive Gains

NEW YORK, NY/1/4/04—Barnes & Noble shares rose 82 percent in 2003 to $32.51 per share, out-performing analysts’ predictions and holding its own over competitors such as and discounters, Wal-Mart and Costco.

The largest U.S. bookseller has thrived during a tough economy by selling off less profitable mall stores, and beefing up its lucrative Gamestop stores and in-house publishing units.

Barnes & Noble is buying back the remaining 25 percent share in now that its largest online bookselling competitor, Amazon, has leveled off in growth and opened the door for stiffer competition from B&N. The bookseller no longer sees Amazon as the threat it once was, and considers Wal-Mart and Costco as competition only in a narrow market segment, one that represents less than five percent of Barnes & Noble’s sales.

Early last year, Barnes & Noble bought Sterling Publishing for $115 million, a move that may help the company compete with discount chains such as Wal-Mart.

STEPHEN RIGGIO, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble, said in a recent New York Times article that the “self-publishing capability” of the retailer would help the company boost its U.S. market share to 16 percent. The publishing unit is expected to account for 10 percent of overall revenues by 2008, more than double its present 4 percent contribution.

Booksellers are slowly recovering from sales slumps during the first two quarters, helped by huge bestsellers such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Living History, and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Same-store sales, for stores open at least a year, rose 5.6 percent in the second quarter of 2003, and 4.5 percent in the third quarter.