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Books-A-Million sneaks past 1Q estimates

Online bookseller Books-A-Million Inc. (Nasdaq: BAMM) topped Street estimates in its first quarter Tuesday, earning $310,000, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $85.1 million. Its shares closed up 1 29/32, or 22 percent, to 10 5/8.

First Call consensus expected the Birmingham, Ala. company to earn a penny a share in the quarter.

The $85.1 million in sales represented a 14 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it earned $10,000 on sales of $74.4 million.

The upside surprise couldn't have come at a better time considering Books-A-Million shares have lost more than half their value since it missed analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter.

Last quarter, Books-A-Million earned $6.4 million, or 36 cents a share, on sales of $116.5 million.

Comparable stores sales improved 4.9 percent in the quarter.

"We are pleased with the increase in comparable store sales for the quarter," said CEO Clyde Anderson in a prepared release. "These results build upon the trend that began in the fourth quarter of last fiscal year. We believe that our focus on the fundamentals of our retail business is paying dividends in the form of increased store sales and profits."

Books-A-Million shares erupted in November, surging to an all-time high of 47 after trading at just 2 3/16 in September. Since then, however, the stock has steadily lost ground.

All three analysts following the stock rate it either a "hold" or "sell."