September 9, 2014 / 1:05 PM / 3 years ago

Barnes & Noble comparable sales improve; shares rise

A Barnes & Noble book store is shown in Encinitas, California September 9, 2014.Mike Blake

(Reuters) - U.S. bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N) reported a smaller-than-expected fall in quarterly same-store sales, helped by promotions and demand for children's books, sending its shares up as much as 5 percent.

The company's retail core comparable store sales, which exclude its Nook digital unit and college bookstores, fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter ended Aug. 2.

Analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix had expected same-store sales to decline 2 percent.

Movie tie-in editions of popular books such as Disney's "Frozen" and Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl" also helped improve traffic to its stores in the quarter, Mitch Klipper, chief executive of retail, said during a post-earnings call.

The company said it expected book launches and its new range of tablets developed with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) to spur sales in the third quarter.

The tablets developed with Samsung combine Samsung's hardware with Nook's software, allowing Barnes & Noble to focus on providing digital reading technology and content without spending on developing hardware.

Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) ongoing dispute over ebook prices with publisher Hachette Book Group, which has resulted in delivery delays or some titles being unavailable, is also helping push traffic to stores, Klipper said.

Barnes & Noble has been cutting costs to focus more on its core book store business.

Barnes & Noble said in June it would spin off its money-losing Nook Media unit, which includes tablets and college books, by 2015 after it lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past five years.

Selling and administrative expenses fell 6.3 percent to $353 million in the first quarter.

The company's net loss narrowed to $28.4 million, or 56 cents per share, in the quarter, from $87 million, or $1.56 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 63 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Barnes & Noble rose to a two-year high of $24.62 in afternoon trading.

Total comparable retail store sales fell 5.1 percent, primarily due to weak demand for Nook devices and products.

Total sales fell 7 percent to $1.23 billion.

Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel

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