Barnes & Noble, the struggling bookseller, saw its shares jump 8% Wednesday after saying it will spin off its Nook digital book business.
The Nook business, which produced digital readers that were a constant also-ran versus offerings from Amazon, Google and Apple, required heavy investments from the company that it was ill-prepared to afford. Shares are up $2.13, or 10%, to $22.69 on the news.
The unit, to be spun off into a new publicly traded company called Nook Media, is 17% owned by Microsoft and 5% owned by publisher Pearson. The company plans to create a tablet in partnership with Samsung.
The new business is expected to be pulled out of Barnes & Noble by March 2015.
The core business isn't all that healthy, though. Barnes & Noble said sales at stores open at least a year will fall in the low single digit percentage in the upcoming fiscal year. The company posted a loss of $36.7 million in the quarter ended May 3.
Yet, investors seem to be focused on the positives Wednesday. At least Barnes & Noble's quarterly loss is less severe than it was in the same quarter a year ago, when Barnes & Noble bled $114.8 million.Another relatively bright sign, revenue at Barnes & Noble actually grew 3% during the quarter ended May 2014. That's the first time the company has posted a revenue gain since the quarter ending in July 2012, when revenue rose 2.5%, says S&P Capital IQ.
Below is the revenue growth at Barnes & Noble for the few past quarters, which shows how long the slide has been going on:
Quarter ended . . . Revenue % change
May 2014 . . . 3.5%
Jan. 2014 . . . -10.3%
Oct. 2013 . . . -8.0%
July 2013 . . . -8.5%
April 2013 . . . -7.4%
Jan. 2013 . . . -8.8%
Source: S&P Capital IQ, USA TODAY research
Shares have been extremely volatile over the past five years, but essentially have gone nowhere.