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Barnes & Noble Beats Fiscal Q2 2013 Estimates, Reports $1.9 Billion In Revenue And Losses Of $0.04 Per Share

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Literary retailer Barnes & Noble reported its fiscal Q2 2013 earnings this morning, and they’re just a bit stronger than some had forecasted in the days leading up to the release.

The company reported a loss of $0.04 per share on quarterly revenues of $1.9 billion (down 0.4% from the year-ago quarter) — analysts on the other hand expected to see losses of about $0.09 per share on revenues of $1.88 billion. Barnes & Noble also recorded net earnings of $2 million this past quarter, a considerable jump over its loss of $7 million in the year-ago quarter.

A quick look at the rest of the release reveals relatively minor gains and losses across the board. The company’s retail business for instance sunk slightly from last year and only generated $996 million in revenue, a dip that BN attributes mostly to store closures and a downturn in books both in stores and on BN.com. Meanwhile, BN’s college business — the side that handles textbook sales on college campuses — grew a paltry 0.4% year-over-year.

The standout here (to the extent that there is one) is none other than Barnes & Noble’s Nook business — it raked in $160 million in revenues, a 6% jump from Q2 2012. Barnes & Noble also opted to take a particularly frustrating page out of rival Amazon’s playbook by noting that Nook sales doubled over the Black Friday weekend without any numbers to back up the claim.

Perhaps more importantly, the company saw its digital content sales surge 38% over its performance last year, a strong sign of a digital shift is underway for a considerable chunk of the company’s customers. Exactly how beneficial that sort of shift can be for Nook users (and e-book aficionados in general) is still questionable though, as there are still pervasive and annoying issues that pop up when a company’s DRM is too overzealous.

One crucial thing to note is that this BN’s second quarter ended in October, so the biggest holiday gains are yet to come. The company’s most recent e-readers, the Nook HD and its brother the Nook HD+, were launched just after the quarter closed, so we’ll have to wait until next quarter to see how far BN’s next big hardware push took them.

BN will be holding its customary earnings conference call at 10AM Eastern, and I’ll update this post once the company’s brass start getting chatty.