Brian Marshall with Gleacher & Company said in a note to investors on Thursday that he doesn't think Barnes & Noble is a likely acquisition target for Apple and its $76 billion cash hoard.
In fact, if Apple's sole goal was to obtain brick-and-mortar locations, the company would have been better suited to purchase another bookseller, Borders, which has about 400 stores in liquidation.
Marshall said that Barnes & Noble's real estate footprint is "impressive," with more than 700 stores totaling 18.4 million square feet of space from an average store footprint of 26,000 square feet. But he also says a potential $1.5 billion vestment would not be a wise use of Apple's money.
Apple is currently making an aggressive push in the retail space, and plans to add 30 stores in the September 2011 quarter. Most of Apple's planned expansion, though, is set to take place internationally, and the vast majority of Barnes & Noble's retail space is in the U.S.
"We would much prefer to see AAPL use cash for strategic purposes and balance sheet optimization (e.g., acquisition of content rights, dividend initiation, share repurchases, etc.)," Marshall wrote.
The analysis came in response to a story published by Boy Genius Report earlier on Thursday, in which an "unproven source" claimed to have knowledge of negotiations between Apple and Barnes & Noble.