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Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY ) first-quarter earnings report was no blowout, but value-minded investors should give the electronics retailer props nonetheless.
First-quarter net income decreased 12.3%, to $136 million, or $0.35 per share. Revenue increased 1.4%, to $10.94 billion, and same-store sales dropped 1.7% (versus last year's 2.8% comps increase). Still, Best Buy's earnings beat analysts' estimates, lending a more positive halo to the company's results.
Best Buy reported particular strength in mobile phone sales, with 28% comps growth in that area. Before investors get too excited, however, they should remember that the mobile phone market can be cyclical. Rival RadioShack (NYSE: RSH ) leans heavily on that segment, and it's often reported choppy results over the years as different phones cycle in and out of fashion.
Electronics retailers in general face a tough competitive market; Best Buy contends not only with companies like RadioShack, Conn's (Nasdaq: CONN ) , and hhgregg, but also with big-box, general interest discount retailers that also peddle electronics, like Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , Costco (Nasdaq: COST ) , and Target (NYSE: TGT ) .
Best Buy's still a formidable contender in the electronics market, and I prefer its long-term outlook to weaker competitors like RadioShack (which reported a 30% quarterly profit decrease in April) and Conn's (which recently reported that its quarterly profit plunged and revenue decreased).
In other words, Best Buy's not likely to pull a Circuit City, and recent negativity has plunged Best Buy's shares into the bargain bin, trading at just 9 times this year's earnings. That's cheaper than big-box stocks like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco right now. It's also cheaper than Conn's, a far weaker electronics retailer that still trades at 14 times this year's earnings.
The economy remains difficult, and even giants like Wal-Mart have delievered sluggish results. As many retailers start focusing on smaller locations, big-box stores' best days may be over. Still, Best Buy's got a great brand and cheap shares, and it deserves a lot more deference from investors.