20 May 2011 – disposal/trading update

The group has announced the disposal of its Waterstones bookstore business for £53m with completion expected by the end of June.  The disposal is an important step in reducing the group’s borrowings and should enable the group to refinance the rest of its debt.  However, current trading remains difficult, with sales in the 17 weeks to 30 April down by over 14%.  The group has closed 19 stores as part of the store closure programme and other cost cutting measures have been implemented.  Only time will tell if these measures are enough and so for the time being we continue to suggest that investors give the shares a miss.  AVOID.