Friday, March 25, 2011

No Buyers for Barnes & Noble at 60 Cents on Dollar

Even with Barnes & Noble Inc. selling for 60 cents on the dollar, the cheapest retailer in America still isn’t cheap enough to entice private-equity buyers looking for cash. 
The bookseller founded by Leonard Riggio has fallen 28 percent since putting itself up for sale seven months ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Losses accelerated after the New York-based company eliminated its dividend in February, leaving Barnes & Noble at a 15-year low last week. The chain is the only U.S. retailer with a value of more than $500 million trading at a discount to its net assets, the data show. 
Barnes & Noble destroyed 80 percent of its shareholders’ value since rising to a record five years ago as Riggio, who bought the bookstore in 1971, fell behind Inc. in selling books over the Internet and starting an electronic reader business. Now, with Barnes & Noble piling money into its Nook reader to compete with the Kindle and Apple Inc.’s iPad and analysts projecting its first loss in a decade, the only buyer left may be Riggio himself as private-equity firms back away after the bankruptcy of Borders Group Inc., according to Wall Street Strategies Inc. in New York. 
“There’s not much to like,” said Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies’ retail analyst. “One thing I’ve learned in retail is once the model starts to go against you it’s tough to pull yourself out. Assets on their books are losing value so quickly. Other than Riggio, I don’t know who else would want it.” ...