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Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Free Report

reported a wider-than-expected loss, potentially opening the door for billionaire investor Ron Burkle to claim three seats on the company's board.

The No. 1 book retailer said it lost $62.5 million, or $1.12 a share, compared with a profit of $12.3 million, or 21 cents, in the year-ago period.

Excluding items, Barnes & Noble actually lost $1.02 per share, still significantly more than the 80-cent loss analysts predicted.

Revenue grew 21% to $1.4 billion, also shy of Wall Street's estimates of $1.42. Online sales, which include sales of its Nook e-reader, surged 42% to $145 million. Same-store sales slipped 0.9%.

Barnes & Noble also lowered its full-year guidance by 25 cents, now expecting to earn between 25 cents and 65 cents a share.

As a result, shares of Barnes & Noble are falling 4.8% to $14.28 in morning trading.

This gives Burkle more ammunition in his proxy contest to usher in a new management regime. Burkle is trying to place himself, and two other directors, onto the company's board.

Burkle's 19% stake in the company makes him the second-largest shareholder behind Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio. Burkle has been a proverbial thorn in Barnes & Noble's side since he attempted to get control of the company by upping his ownership stake to 37%. However, that effort triggered the company's poison pill provision, which sets a cap of 20% ownership in order to prevent such a hostile takeover. Burkle took his battle over the poison pill provision to court, but was ruled against.

Riggio is seeking re-election to the board and backing two outside directors. Shareholders will get a chance to vote on Sept. 28, during the company's annual meeting. Awarding any power to Burkle and his Yucaipa firm could drastically change the dynamic of the company.

Either way, investors are hoping to end this war as soon as possible, as the battle could affect the sale of the company. Barnes & Noble announced it was putting itself up for sale last month as it searches for strategic alternatives amid crumbling book sales.

Riggio has said that he would consider making a bid for the book seller along with a group of investors.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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