Beat it, missed it, beat it, missed it -- for five quarters in a row now, electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) has alternately soared over Wall Street's hurdles, or stumbled upon them. Let's hope the company can finally feast on Tuesday, when it reports its Q3 numbers, and skip the famine part of this story. Otherwise, things could get really ugly, really quickly.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Twenty-five analysts still follow Best Buy, down three from last quarter. Fifteen of them think the company lives up to its name. Nine more say to put this one on layaway, and only one counsels selling.
  • Revenues. On average, they expect to see 11% sales growth to $9.43 billion.
  • Earnings. Profits are predicted to surge 32% to $0.41 per share.

What management says:
In going-away-party news, Best Buy announced last month that executive vice president for customer operating groups Darren Jackson is getting a promotion ... to become the CEO of Advance Auto Parts. Good news for Advance? Maybe. But Best Buy investors have to wonder what this move portends for Best Buy's high-profile management "realignment," which was to lay the groundwork for "future growth." Jackson's move to the EVP position, from CFO, headlined the announcement of this initiative just two months before he "left the building." This Fool wonders whether he viewed the move to EVP as a demotion, and an "invitation" to leave.

What management does:
Total conjecture, you say? Well, look at the evidence. Under Jackson's leadership, Best Buy's gross margin has steadily declined over the last 18 months. Operating and net margins have been sliding for the last two quarters, too. Although it's still doing much better than either Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) or Circuit City (NYSE:CC), Best Buy earns less profit on a dollar of revenue than Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). I don't know about you, but these numbers suggest to me one reason why Best Buy might have wanted to switch CFOs.

Margins

5/06

8/06

11/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

Gross

25.0%

24.9%

24.7%

24.4%

24.1%

24.0%

Operating

5.5%

5.6%

5.5%

5.7%

5.3%

5.3%

Net

3.8%

3.8%

3.7%

3.8%

3.6%

3.6%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
In the four years since Fool co-founder David Gardner drafted Best Buy into our Motley Fool Stock Advisor portfolio, the stock has lagged the S&P 500's performance by a good six percentage points.

So does David think it's time to follow Mr. Jackson out the door? Should we throw in the towel on Best Buy? Perhaps not. David recently applauded management's decision to spend $5.5 billion on share buybacks (an opinion I did not share). He also praised Best Buy's expanded relationship with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) -- and I'm guessing he was at least intrigued by Best Buy's addition of Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) computers to the mix.

To get David's most recent opinion on Best Buy -- about as recent as these things get -- make sure to sign up now for a free, 30-day trial subscription to Stock Advisor.

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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Dell is a Stock Advisor pick. Dell, Wal-Mart, and Sears are Inside Value recommendations. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.