Meet Best Buy's Mini-Me

The electronics-retailing road is littered with companies that have fallen flat while trying to take on almighty Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) . Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) has fallen so far that embattled video-rental firm Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI  ) is trying to pick it up on the cheap, while Tweeter vanished from the public realm more than a year ago. But by sticking to retailing basics, small-cap rival hhgregg (NYSE: HGG  ) has found a way to succeed in the cutthroat business of hawking flat-panel televisions, home appliances, and other electronic accessories.

Today's fourth-quarter results are a case in point. Total sales improved 14.4%, on a respectable 0.8% increase in same-store sales. Reported diluted earnings per share grew 10.7% to $0.31, which happened to beat analyst expectations by $0.03.   

So what's the secret to hhgregg's success? Like its big blue rival, hhgregg management firmly believes in customer service. It offers perks such as same-day delivery, and a shopping experience that has been described as consultative, as opposed to pushy salespeople angling for a fat commission.

hhgregg also tends to carry more selection than the competition, but it's able to also compete on price. That's important to consumers, since televisions and other large appliances are basically commodities, available at a wide array of competitors, from the above players to stores such as Sears Holdings' (Nasdaq: SHLD  ) Sears stores, RadioShack (NYSE: RSH  ) , and Conn's (Nasdaq: CONN  ) .

For the full year, hhgregg posted an impressive 18.6% increase in sales and a stellar 33.5% jump in operating cash flow. That leaves plenty of room to fund new stores; the company ended its fiscal year with less than 100 locations, but it sees the potential for more than 400 as it expands from its Midwestern roots. With shares currently trading at a lowly 10 times forward earnings guidance, I'd say hhgregg is worth a good, hard look.  

Further Foolishness gives you the big picture:

Best Buy is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection and Inside Value recommendation, while Sears is also an Inside Value pick. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial to either of these market-beating newsletters.

Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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