Barnes & Noble's NOOK Business Takes Off

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Barnes & Noble ( BKS) reported strong sales of its NOOK digital e-reader on Tuesday but still posted a wider than anticipated loss in its fiscal first quarter.

The New York bookseller reported a loss of $57 million, or 99 cents a share, for the three months ended July 30 with total sales rising 2% year-over-year to $1.42 billion and same-store sales slipping 1.6%.

The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a loss of 94 cents a share in the July period on sales of $1.46 billion.

The NOOK business, though, was a bright spot with revenue soaring 140% year-over-year to $277 million on a comparable sales basis. This business includes sales of digital content, hardware and related accessories. Sales at jumped 37% year-over-year to $198 million, driven by strength in demand for the NOOK and related digital content.

"Our strategy of growing market share in the exploding digital content business while maximizing cash flow and EBITDA from our retail operations is paying off," said William Lynch, the company's CEO, in a statement. "We plan to continue investing in the significant growth areas of our business, and in fiscal 2012, we expect to see leverage as our digital sales growth is projected to exceed the growth of investment spend."

For fiscal 2012, Barnes & Noble said it sees EBITDA earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ranging from $210 million to $250 million, consolidated losses of 10 to 50 cents a share, sales of $7.4 billion, and same-store sales rising 2%-3%.

The stock was soaring nearly 17% to $13.34 following the news. Based on a regular session close at $11.43 on Monday, the shares were down 20% so far in 2011.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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