Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) founder Richard Schulze set an agreement with the troubled retailer’s board in August that would allow him to examine its financials with the goal of an LBO in mind. There were rumors at the time that the offer would be as much as $11 billion. The chances a deal would go through were promising, particularly if Schulze contributed his approximately 20% ownership in the company to the transaction.
All in all, the media reported an offer would value Best Buy at $24 to $26 a share, but some analysts reported that the estimate was actually too high. No matter what the future of the deal might have been, Best Buy shares popped as high as $21 in August. Without an offer, the stock could easily drop back to just below $13, near the bottom of where it has traded over the past 52 weeks. The share price now is just above $15.
Best Buy has objected to the analysis that it will flounder worse than it has recently. New CEO Hubert Joly has a plan to save the company, but Wall St. has found it very short of details. The best measure of Best Buy’s fortunes is the future of Schulze’s offer. As the founder and leader of Best Buy for decades, who better to assess its prospects?
Several news outlets reported very recently that Schulze has reconsidered his plans and may make no offer at all, or he may only take a larger minority share in Best Buy. Neither course evidences much confidence in current management, and whatever strategic plans that management might have.
The oft-repeated skepticism about Best Buy’s prospects continues to be, and will always be, based on the rise of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) as the world’s premier e-commerce firm and a leader in the sales of consumer electronics. Without the need to support hundreds of stores and the costs that go with them, Amazon has a natural advantage over Best Buy, and it is not one it will ever surrender. Best Buy has an online presence, but one that continues to be scuttled by Amazon’s success.
Best Buy is in worsening trouble. Without a LBO deal with Schulze, there is no reason to think the shares can maintain their current level.