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Tickers in this Article: BKS, AMZN, WMT, BGP
When it comes to books, I think that online is a good and enviable place to be because of the vast audiences that can potentially be reached, but there is still plenty of opportunity in physical locations. My thinking is that books are often something that many of us like to purchase after holding them and perusing through a few pages to see if they are a worthwhile read. We'll look at some big book retailers to see who will stand up to the latest book-selling trends.

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Mixed on Barnes
For the above reason, I'm optimistic about Barnes & Noble's (NYSE:BKS) chances in the years to come. As of January 30, 2010, there were 719 Barnes & Noble stores. The company's next earnings announcement is scheduled for June 28.

While BKS could beat the Q4 estimate (which is for a loss of 81 cents), the company trades at more than 20 times the 80-cent estimate that is out there for this next year. Ideally, a pullback to the lower teens (in terms of stocks price) would make me a lot more interested.

Other Booksellers
I like Borders Group's (NYSE:BGP) large stores from a shoppers point of view. However, under the $5 mark and given the competition it is facing it could have some trouble getting analysts and others to really become interested in the stock and the story.

One company that deserves a mention or glance when it comes to reading material is none other than Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). While it doesn't have the vast selection that a player like Barnes & Noble or Borders does, it does have a lot of locations and foot traffic, and it moves a lot of reading material. It also has the benefit of selling other merchandise, so someone shopping for a clothing item could pass by the book aisle and end up going home with one. (Read Analyzing Retail Stocks to learn about the most important metrics to look at when analyzing these stocks.)

The Read On Amazon
(Nasdaq:AMZN) has does well by its stockholders; it has a big presence on the web and is a great place to find books or electronics. Overall, I think it is in an enviable position, but at more than 41 times this year's estimate, it's hard to become overly excited about the company from an investment standpoint, as I would prefer a lower multiple.

Bottom Line
While books are likely to be a major avenue of entertainment well into the future, none of the traditional book retailers seem particularly attractive from an investment standpoint. However, Wal-Mart, which sells a large number of books could end up being one of the better ways to play book demand. Not only does it have a large footprint, but it also draws in customers for a variety of other merchandise and services.

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