More than a decade ago, former Fidelity Magellan fund manager and author Peter Lynch stimulated my interest in investing with his simple and timeless classics, One Up on Wall Street and Beating the Street. One of my favorite sayings of his was, "If you like the store, chances are you'll love the stock."
Check out your local Best Buy
Fast-forward to last Tuesday's news of lower-than-expected profits from increased sales of lower-margin products. Wall Street instinctively slapped the discount tag on this stock, but value investors must be curious: Is Best Buy worth 6% less today than it was a little over a week ago?
Of course I don't think so, yet I have a sneaky suspicion my dueling partner David Meier will beg to differ. While I'm sure his opinion is in no way influenced by those rumors I've heard that he's on the verge of embracing life in an Amish community (really, Windows Vista can't be that bad), I'll stick to the facts concerning Best Buy.
Taking a look at the bearish pitches on CAPS, David will have no problem digging up some dirt on this one. A few contributors make good points (I even recommended 'em!). One poster, priorart, doesn't like Best Buy's customer service, while mrcarlso is concerned about market saturation. He also believes Circuit City's
To be honest, I share some of these concerns. As Best Buy grows, customer service only becomes more difficult to control, and competition from discount stores or a possible Circuit City resurgence should never be written off. While I'm obviously not viewing this company through rose-colored glasses (although they do seem to make red numbers magically disappear), why do I remain a bull?
Because we Americans love electronics -- and Best Buy is the go-to place for cutting-edge stuff. Sure, you can go elsewhere just to make a purchase, but advice, professional installation, and those Geek Squad folks are tough to come by in a store where electronics is just another section next to sporting goods.
Still, that's just the beginning. I've got a whole list of reasons for loving Best Buy:
Management: In spite of slim profit margins, this company returns more than 20% on invested capital and equity, and just more than 10% on assets. Plus, I admire Best Buy's willingness to experiment with new store concepts (even if they don't last) and the Results Only Work Environment. It's done well for its corporate office, so I'm very curious to see how the concept works in the retail environment.
Stock buybacks: There haven't been any official announcements [editor's note: the official announcement came out on June 27], but one recent Associated Press story notes that Best Buy is accelerating share repurchases, quoting Chief Financial Officer Darren Jackson as saying, "We plan to be more aggressive on multiple fronts in returning cash to shareholders this year." Indeed, Fool by Numbers indicates a 1.9% drop in diluted shares from a year ago.
China : While Circuit City and CompUSA are closing stores, Best Buy recently announced its intention to open more stores than originally planned in corporate America's 51st state. Okay, so it's only eight to 10 openings, but measured growth is vital to long-term success in foreign markets. That's a good sign for Foolish long-term investors.
Oh, I almost forgot ... one more thing ...
iPhones and MacBooks, iPods and OS X: By this fall, 200 Best Buy stores will feature Apple
Finally, to run some quick numbers, I project long-term sales and EPS growth of 12%-14%. Conservatively assuming growth of 12% for a trailing EPS of $2.72, we're looking at an EPS of $4.79 in five years. Tack on a P/E multiple of 17, and these shares should trade for at least $81 ... that equates to a 12.6% annualized return, or 13.4% if you count the dividend yield. Not bad for a low-end estimate.
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Fool contributor Jason Ramage owns shares in Best Buy, but has no position in any other companies mentioned. While the market has been weak lately, he is feeling good about his Motley Fool CAPS rating rising to 9,718 out of 31,079. The Fool takes its disclosure policy very seriously.