It's almost time for Best Buy (BBY -1.70%) to show us what it's been up to in recent months, and it's not likely to be pretty.
The consumer-electronics retailer reports fiscal second-quarter results on Tuesday morning. It's probably not going to impress the market. Analysts see revenue clocking in at $8.29 billion, nearly 7% below where it was a year earlier. Wall Street pros also expect a profit of $0.34 a share, well below the $0.44 it rang up a year earlier.
Best Buy has consistently landed above analyst profit targets over the past year, but it would take one heck of a beat on the bottom line for the struggling chain to avoid posting another period of declining profitability.
Revenue has fallen every year since peaking in fiscal 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ data. This isn't a surprise. The same folks who used to buy DVDs, CDs, video games, and even books from Best Buy are now just downloading or streaming digital copies from somewhere else. You still need hardware to take advantage of the digital revolution, but savvy shoppers can often find better prices online sold by outfits that don't have to bake in the overhead of running a physical storefront into their prices.
Best Buy has made the most of a bad situation. It has outlasted Circuit City and countless smaller rivals. It brought in a sharp CEO a couple of years ago that has gone on to shave costs, improve customer satisfaction, and close down underperforming stores. However, all that Best Buy is doing is slowing its demise. It's not manifesting much of a turnaround.
It's hard to fathom a scenario where Best Buy's best days aren't behind it. Sometimes it can land a deal that seems shrewd on the surface -- earlier this month it became the first third-party national retailer to stock the Apple Watch -- but the deals aren't likely to move the needle.
Best Buy began selling the smartwatch only after reports that sales of the device have fallen sharply since hitting the market in April surfaced. It also doesn't help that it's only being sold at a handful of Best Buy stores. It's hard to market that kind of limited availability when patrons know that they can buy directly without having to guess which area Best Buy is participating in the rollout.
The pressure is CEO Hubert Joly. He'll have to paint a rosy picture of his chain's prospects for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. Cutting costs has been a near-term fix, but a real turnaround plan needs to come into play soon.