Best Buy Dividend Hike Fails to Offset Earnings Disappointment

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Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) reported fourth-quarter and full-year fiscal 2017 results before markets opened Wednesday. The big-box retailer of electronics gear posted quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95 and $13.48 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, Best Buy reported EPS of $1.53 on revenue of $13.62 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.67 and $13.62 billion in revenue.

For the fiscal year ended in January, Best Buy reported $3.56 in EPS and revenues of $39.4 billion, compared with fiscal 2016 EPS of $2.78 and revenues of $39.53 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of $3.29 and revenues of $39.55 billion.

Enterprise level same-store sales fell 0.7% year over year in the quarter but increased by 0.3% for the full fiscal year. In the United States, same-store sales fell by 0.9% in the quarter and rose by 0.2% for the year.

Domestic online sales of $2.3 billion in the quarter was a year-over-year improvement of 17.5%.

In the fourth quarter, Best Buy repurchased 5.3 million shares for a total of $226 million. For fiscal 2017, the company repurchased 21 million shares for a total of $743 million. The company’s cumulative share repurchases, net of dilution from equity based awards, positively benefited GAAP and non-GAAP diluted EPS by $0.14 in the fourth quarter.

Best Buy also announced a 21% boost to its quarterly dividend, from $0.28 per share to $0.34, effective immediately.

The company’s chairman and chief executive, Hubert Joly, said:

Our strong bottom-line performance in the fourth quarter was driven by a disciplined promotional strategy, continued optimization of merchandise margins and strong expense management. … At the same time, our revenue was hindered by unprecedented product availability constraints across multiple vendors and categories, only some of which were anticipated. Additionally, there was considerably weaker-than-expected demand in the gaming category.

Chief Financial Officer Corie Barry got to deliver the outlook:

For fiscal 2018, which is a 53-week year, we are expecting Enterprise revenue growth of approximately 1.5% and an operating income growth rate in the low single digits. On a 52-week basis, we are targeting approximately flat revenue and operating income.

Our annual outlook is influenced by a number of factors, including expected share gains and the positive impact from our new initiatives, offset by our assumption that the industry growth will remain negative, similar to the last two years, and product availability issues will continue, particularly in the first half of the year. We are also expecting our investments and ongoing pressures in the business, including approximately $60 million of lower profit share revenue, to be offset by a combination of returns from new initiatives and ongoing cost reductions and efficiencies.

Best Buy expects first-quarter 2018 adjusted diluted EPS in a range of $0.35 to $0.40. Analysts are expecting first-quarter EPS of $0.49 on sales of $8.48 billion. For the full fiscal year, analysts have forecast EPS at $3.48 on sales of $39.82 billion.

Weak revenue performance with the promise of more coming in the current quarter sent Best Buy’s stock tumbling in Wednesday’s premarket session. Shares traded down nearly 8% at $40.88, in a 52-week range of $28.76 to $49.40. The consensus 12-month price target was $45.33 before results were announced, with a high target of $58.00. The stock closed at $44.13 on Monday.