Geoff Gannon September 29, 2010

Barnes & Noble: Stock Price Moves and Breaking News – Benjamin Graham’s Mr. Market

A reader sent me this email:

Hello Geoff,

I am a recent college grad who is just starting to become interested in the stock investment world…I happened to hit upon your articles on BKS early last month and I’ve become quite interested in what’s going on with the company since. I’m a bit confused as to the logic of today’s stock price drop at the beginning of the…day and I’m wondering if you could shed some light. Last week’s jump…to almost 18 appears to reflect the news that three proxy advisors supported the current management team, so I’d think the investors feel the same and thus the increase in price. Why is it then that when the current management announced their win today, the stock sharply dropped by almost…$1 before slowly rebounding up? Thank you.

– Steve

I’m not sure last week’s jump to $18 had anything to do with proxy advisors. Advisors split the way you’d expect: Glass-Lewis for management; ISS for dissident. Investors aren’t pro-Riggio. The timing of the price move just made it look that way to you.

Surprises move stocks. When Barnes & Noble said it might sell the company, investors were surprised. The trial verdict and the proxy endorsements were not surprises.

Board election odds were 50/50 and neither outcome was decisive for buyout chances.

Don’t study stock moves. Use Benjamin Graham’s Mr. Market metaphor. Think of the market as someone you can take advantage of instead of someone you can learn from.

Talk to Geoff about Barnes & Noble (BKS)