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The Carson effect evident at Books-A-Million


Guest appearances by Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson at Books-A-Million stores gave the retailer a modest sales lift in the third quarter.

The company said its sales increased 0.4% to $101.6 million and same store sales increased 1.6%, thanks in part to appearances by Republication presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson. However, signs of life on the top line did not translate to bottom line improvement as Books-A-Million reported a loss of $7.1 million, or 50 cents a share, that was in line with a loss from the prior year.

“We saw improved sales in our core book and general merchandise categories, led by the positive impact of the growing coloring book trend,” said Books-A-Million President and CEO Terrance G. Finley. “We also hosted several author events, namely those highlighting Dr. Ben Carson, which helped drive incremental sales in the quarter. We are looking forward to the holiday season and our entire team is focused on getting our stores ready to serve our customers in the weeks ahead.”

If Books-A-Million benefitted from an appearance by Dr. Carson, it will needs the entire roster of Republican candidates and even Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to show up for book signings in the fourth quarter to dig out of the hole the company has dug for itself after the first three quarters.

The operator of 257 stores in 32 states said sales declined 0.6% to $311.3 million and same store sales increased 0.1% during the first three months. The company’s loss worsened to $18.2 million, or $1.28 a share, from a loss of $15.5 million, or $1.08 a share, during the first three months of 2014. Included in the loss figures for the first nine months is a $2.1 million expense, equal to 15 cents a share, related to the family controlled company’s July 13 merger agreement to take the company private for $3.25 a share. Shareholders are scheduled to vote on the transaction on Dec. 7.

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