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Best Buy's Turmoil at the Top

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Best Buy's (Nasdaq: BBY  ) busted bad, all right. CEO Brian Dunn's abrupt resignation today may very well speak to the idea that his tenure in the top spot hasn't been good for the retailer, but it doesn't signal that the bleeding can stop, either.

CEO resignations generally are nothing to cheer about, unless a founder or visionary is returning to right the ship. The triumphant return of Starbucks' (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) Howard Schultz to the CEO role is one solid example of a company that got its soul back. Another is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , when Steve Jobs regained power after being booted by a manager who, to paraphrase Jobs, tended to promote people who were "usually bozos."

In Best Buy's case, shareholders enjoy no such luck. As my colleague Rick Munarriz pointed out earlier, former health-care executive G. Mike Mikan will now head up this ailing company on an interim basis. That's ironic, and it probably won't be very effective, even if Mikan knows how to apply a few well-placed bandages.

What Best Buy really needs is a merchant at the helm. Best Buy needs a visionary who can save it from its current state of mediocrity. It may be too late, but it would be a step in the right direction.

It's been a long time since Best Buy seemed exciting as a retailer, not to mention a retail stock investment. Years ago, former CEO Brad Anderson was building an innovative retailer that made customer-centric business its mission.

Remember the homage to Anderson upon his departure? According to the company on his departure: "Anderson was the chief architect of the company's successful customer centricity strategy, which also is attributed to increasing the company's market share and expanding its operating income rate. The three core philosophies of customer centricity include inviting each employee to contribute their unique ideas and experiences in service of customers; treating customers uniquely and honoring their differences; and meeting customers' unique needs end to end."

Clearly, Anderson's retirement was probably not such a great development for Best Buy shareholders, although Dunn's long tenure there before his promotion made for a hopeful theory that everything would be all right.

Now, Best Buy's lost and undifferentiated in a sea of electronics providers, and its most formidable competitor doesn't even have a physical presence on the retail landscape: (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) .

Right now, there's no reason to believe this development is good news, even though Dunn simply wasn't able to do great things for Best Buy the way his predecessor did. There's really no inspiring sign of a return to former glory, though; it's just one more sign of trouble and turmoil for this beleaguered retailer.

To keep updated on Best Buy as the company embarks on its journey back to relevance, make sure to add it to our free My Watchlist feature, which delivers the most up-to-date news and analysis on the company you can find:

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Starbucks, Apple, and, writing covered calls on Starbucks, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 8:39 PM, TMFLomax wrote:

    Given the late-evening breaking news about Dunn's "personal conduct" issue being the actual reason for his departure, the real story here will probably be exactly what the conduct entailed, and if he's going to make out like a bandit financially on his exit.

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