Blue Christmas at Best Buy

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) narrowed its fiscal 2009 guidance after disappointing holiday sales numbers proved it was not immune to the retail trend of abysmal December sales.

Best Buy narrowed its 2009 earnings guidance to a range of $2.50 per share to $2.70 per share; in November it had given guidance for earnings of $2.30 per share to $2.90 per share. (Remember, this was a major revision from its earlier guidance for earnings of $3.25 per share to $3.40 per share.)

In December, Best Buy's revenue increased 4% to $7.5 billion, although same-store sales fell by 6.5%. This can hardly seem surprising. Even Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) disappointed analysts with its December comps numbers.

Being obsessed with quarterly guidance isn't really Foolish. After all, placing emphasis on quarters is an exercise in short-term thinking. The guidance change does tell us that Best Buy wasn't immune to the terrible consumer spending climate that we already knew existed (although we can take consolation in the fact that it wasn't worse than Best Buy anticipated, since it didn't have to guide even lower). Best Buy also said in the press release that it believes it continues to take market share.

That brings us to one bullish thing about Best Buy (which has been recommended by both Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Inside Value): It has a great brand and leadership position in the consumer electronics space. Tweeter is going out of business, and Circuit City is clearly suffering (although today it said it might have interested buyers). I also can't imagine RadioShack (NYSE: RSH  ) will emerge from this recession unscathed and strong. And even though Best Buy still has companies like Costco (Nasdaq: COST  ) , Wal-Mart, and Target (NYSE: TGT  ) to contend with, I believe it's going to be a survivor.

The near term may really stink for Best Buy, and shareholders may have a long time to wait before the stock stops getting pummeled during all this near-term pain. However, I still suspect that ultimately, after some of the excess retail rivalry gets swept away, Best Buy, with its customer-centric mission, may find itself in a better position than ever. And that's why Best Buy is one of those stocks I believe investors would do well to have in their portfolios for the long haul.

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Wal-Mart Stores, Costco Wholesale, and Best Buy are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Costco Wholesale and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2009, at 8:31 AM, whoyafoolin wrote:

    Right now there are too many doors for C.E. Best Buy, Circuit, RadioShack, Wal-Mart .. even the dollar stores are carrying phones and small C.E. items.

    If and when CC tanks it's going to take a company (or companies) to either run the stores or take the inventory. This will require an existing infrastructure of distribution, sales, service and customer service.

    I am guessing that CC decides to close it's doors. One CE company is going to take their big sized inventory (t.v.'s, car audio, custom home installations etc) and another one will take the rest.

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