Best Not Buy?

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By my count, over the 24 hours since Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) announced fiscal fourth-quarter and 2010 earnings, some 117 separate stories have been published on the news. (And that's just on Yahoo! Finance. I shudder to think how many more are waiting over on Google News ...) What more, I ask you, can a Fool possibly say about the report?

Quite a lot, actually. So far, stories on Best Buy's numbers have mostly hit the highlights, repeating tales of woe: weak TV sales. Same-store sales down 4.6%. Operating costs up 60 basis points. Profits down 11%. Market share a full percentage point lower.

Where good news has shined through, it's focused on the company's slight improvement in gross margins, as confused phone shoppers tromp through the big box looking for advice on whether they should buy from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) , Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) , or any other Android-based clone phones. It seems the company's focus on higher margins from such smartphones helped. (And even then, it seems a lot of folks turned right around and marched off to buy phones and other electronics from cheaper vendors such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) and (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) .)

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
So it's little wonder that Best Buy's slide hasn't stopped at yesterday's 5.4% loss of market cap, but expanded into a further 3% slide today. But here's the good news: Best Buy got 5.4% cheaper yesterday -- and a further 3% cheaper today!

Today, Best Buy shares can be had for the low, low price of just 9.4 times earnings (and they're even cheaper when valued on free cash flow.) Throw in a tidy 1.9% dividend, and the stock looks bargain-priced for its projected 11% five-year annualized earnings growth.

Even if Best Buy only grows at just the 7% it's projecting for this year, and things never get any better, the stock looks fairly priced -- but I actually believe Best Buy can do better. Amazon's edge on pricing looks shaky in light of state initiatives to require it to collect sales taxes. As this playing field gets leveled, I expect the momentum to shift in Best Buy's favor as it capitalizes on its strengths: "Boots-on-the-ground" expert advice on high-price purchases. A local Geek Squad business that can tame tech glitches -- and charge for the service.

Investors today are pricing Best Buy for obsolescence. In a high-tech world, I think that's the wrong call.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Best Buy and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value choices. Apple,, and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. The Fool has written puts on Apple. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Wal-Mart. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart.

Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2011, at 3:32 PM, crca99 wrote:

    Thanks for helping me follow BBY. My long position is now negative and I'm trying to make an informed decision about next step.

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2011, at 8:19 AM, wax wrote:


    You are one to talk (write). You sing the exact same song as every other TMF staffer!!

    If a company isn't part of some TMF newsletter, then it must suck and should not be written about.

    Come on man...there are more stocks out there than Best Buy and Research in Motion!


  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2011, at 11:31 AM, rdutyuyt wrote:
  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2011, at 12:39 PM, MegaEurope wrote:

    wax, I think you are off base with this comment. RIMM isn't even a TMF pick. And TMF writers don't cover these 2 companies anywhere near as extensively as other popular tech stocks like SIRI, AMZN, NFLX, YHOO, BIDU, etc.

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