To be fair, a significant portion of Jonathan Laing’s enthusiasm for Barnes & Noble builds off the opinion of Pershing Square hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who’s carved out an 8% stake in the bookseller because he’s convinced the company “has weathered the competitive threat of the online book retailer Amazon.com and continues to prosper.” And I realize the whole point of the “Barron’s investment insight” is to describe stocks ripe for the taking. But I mean, really, when you get to passages like “with its Starbucks coffee cafes, frequent author visits and children’s reading hours, it continues to offer customers a far richer experience than Internet book sellers or book clubs can,” you have to ask yourself whether you’re reading an article or a press release. But here’s the nut: “Rising earnings should take the stock up into the mid-50s in a year to 18 months and to double its current price three years out.” (As I prepare this post for publication before the Monday markets open, B&N is currently at 41.07, nearly three points higher than Amazon.)
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