Let's Check Entertainment Retail's Oil

If you ever want to check the dipstick of entertainment retail, all you need to do is lift the hood on Hastings Entertainment (Nasdaq: HAST  ) . The media store does it all, from renting out DVDs to selling CDs to selling refurbished Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPods.

The company came in for its quarterly checkup yesterday, rolling in on just three of its four tires.

Comps rose 0.6% during its second quarter, and that's stacked on top of a 2.2% showing a year earlier. The closure of one of its stores led to essentially flat revenue of $125.7 million. Margins weren't kind, with earnings of $0.06 a share coming up short relative to the adjusted $0.09 a share it earned a year ago and the $0.13 a share showing that analysts were expecting this time around.

Since Hastings does it all, this report isn't just about a Texas-based chain of 152 superstores. Knowing that Hastings delivered a 2% store-level increase in rentals bodes well for DVD rental chains like Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI  ) , and perhaps even Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) .

On the merchandising side, Hastings was strong in all areas save for a 1.1% dip in books and an 11.7% slide in music. Don't read too much into the weakness with the books. Comps would have been sharply higher if it wasn't for last year's release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The steep decline in CD sales, which follows a similarly sharp 14.2% decline in music comps a year earlier, is also not much of a head-scratcher. There's a reason why Apple is the country's leading music retailer, and it's all about digital migration.

The chain's biggest gains came in electronics (thanks in part to those refurbished electronics), trends (which includes apparel, accessories, and Webkinz toys), and video games. These are welcome sights if you run a consumer electronics superstore like Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) or Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) .

Back to Hastings: Despite the bottom-line miss, this is still a seasonal company. The holidays will be the ultimate dipstick for Hastings itself. For now, the company is not worried about yesterday's quarterly performance. It still expects to earn $0.95 a share to $1.00 a share this year, which prices the stock at a mere 8 times this year's bottom line. With a value-driven engine like that, who has time to crack open the hood?

Related Foolishness:

Apple, Best Buy, and Netflix all been recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers. Try the newsletter on for size with a free 30-day trial subscription offer.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Netflix subscriber -- and shareholder -- since 2002. Sadly, he doesn't live near any of the 152 Hastings superstore locations. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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