Books-A-Million once again reported quarterly results that benefited from the addition of over 40 former Borders stores last fall. For the third quarter ended October 27, sales rose 11%, to $104.7 million, despite a 3.6% decline in comparable store sales. Net loss from continuing operations for the third quarter was $2.8 million, down from a loss of $3.8 million in the comparable period in 2011.
Commenting on the results, CEO Terry Finley said, “Sales for the third quarter reflect stabilization in our core book business and improvements in our toys & game, and other general merchandise sales.” The Fifty Shades trilogy again drove gains in adult fiction, Finley said as did new releases that included The Casual Vacancy and Gone Girl. Nonfiction sales were led by No Easy Day and books from conservative political commentators, Finley said. In general merchandise, apparel sales rose as did sales of electronic accessories and novelty gifts.
BAM has little interest in significantly cutting its number of stores. Asked in a conference call why BAM didn't reduce the number of stores to change the company focus from growth to profitabilty, Finley noted that after taking over the Borders stores last year it closed 23 underperforming BAM outlets. Finley said BAM's strategy is to stabilize the core book business and then to add growth categories, a strategy he believes is working as the book business has strengthened in recent quarters.
For the first nine months of the year, sales rose 12.2% to $338.2 million, and the net loss from continuing operations was cut to $5.6 million from $10.1 million. Comparable store sales in the period declined 2.4%. Finley called the holiday publishing lineup "solid" and said he expects Nook devices to sell well over the holidays.