Barnes & Noble
on Thursday became the latest retailer to announce that holiday sales may prove disappointing.
The book retailer lowered its fourth-quarter earnings estimate to a range of $1.19 to $1.31 per share. Consensus estimates for the quarter had stood at $1.61.
Barnes & Noble shares were trading sharply lower on the news, off $2.06, or 10%, at $19.30 in morning trading.
The company said it expects same-store sales to be generally flat to down 3% for the fourth quarter, mainly as a result of weak holiday sales thus far. If the trend continues, it expects full-year results will come in between $1.53 and $1.65 per share, below First Call consensus estimates of $1.74 per share.
Barnes & Noble also reiterated that its 60% ownership in
, a retailer of video games and software, will cause a 7-cent to 9-cent reduction in per-share earnings for the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, GameStop issued its own warning, saying fourth-quarter same-store sales were down between 4% and 6%, and earnings would be between 48 cents and 52 cents a share, well below Thomson First Call's mean estimate of 65 cents a share.
Shares of GameStop were getting hit hard, down $3.76, or 28%, to $9.55. The stock has now fallen some 50% in the past three trading sessions.
David Lichtman, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, said he thinks the reaction may be a bit overdone. "Barnes & Noble is really feeling the double-barrel affect of GameStop," he said. "GameStop specifically had very tough comps of nearly 60% growth due to strong console sales, especially as it was the first year of the Xbox, and the way travel dollars were diverted to home entertainment last year."
Lichtman also thinks that retailers in general have underestimated the impact of the shortened shopping season, which is seven days shorter than last year's.