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Why Barnes & Noble Education Stock Plunged 32% Today

Rich Smith, The Motley Fool

What happened

Barnes & Noble Education (NYSE: BNED) closed the book on its fiscal Q3 2019 today, reporting a slight GAAP profit but a worsening decline in sales. Investors sold off the stock in response -- down 32% by close of trading on Tuesday, roughly equaling the sell-off we saw the last time the company reported earnings, for Q2 2019.

So what

Expected to earn $0.11 per share on $591.1 million in sales in Q3, the college bookstore operator instead reported a bare $0.02 per share earned on sales of just $550.3 million. Sales declined 9% year over year, while profits -- if not all that Wall Street had hoped they would be -- were at least positive, versus the company's $6.04 per-share GAAP loss reported one year ago.

Barnes & Noble Education blamed "the acceleration from physical textbooks to digital offerings" for what management called "somewhat higher than expected declines in revenue and EBITDA." Still, management insisted "we are confident in our ability to manage these businesses for margin and cash flow while we invest in and begin to scale high value digital growth platforms and offerings."

Row of brightly colored textbooks

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Investors appear to be less confident. And it probably didn't help that, after reporting its big miss on both sales and earnings, Barnes & Noble Education proceeded to warn that it expects full-year sales to be only between $2.15 billion and $2.2 billion this year -- down from a previous projection of $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion.

Wall Street, by the way, thinks the best the company will be able to manage is $2.1 billion -- and based on how investors are reacting today, I'd say they agree with the analysts on this one.

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Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.