RadioShack: The Turnaround That Cannot Turn Around

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RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is one of the 2013 turnarounds that almost looked promising earlier in the year. It turns out that RadioShack’s systemic issues are too much for the new CEO to somehow integrate a drugstore background into a winning plan. New concept stores may not even allow a quick enough fix.

24/7 Wall St. featured nine promising turnaround stocks¬†back in April, and some of them have risen handily since. We just highlighted five that have continued to rise. RadioShack has not, as its shares were around $3.30 at the time and now are down to $2.80. While that may not be a horrible drop, considering that the stock is in turnaround mode, you have to remember that the bull market’s rising tide has lifted most ships.

RadioShack’s turnaround is based on a repositioning of the brand, revamping its product assortment and reinvigorating its (not so great) store experience, operating efficiency and financial flexibility. It remains difficult to know if RadioShack’s plan to add more than 100 concept and brand statement stores by the end of the year is a realistic goal. Changing inventory in the existing 4,300 stores may also be harder to achieve than it sounds.

RadioShack already warned that its turnaround will take several quarters. The problem is that this may be too late. Sales have remained in decline, and its most recent quarter saw a loss much wider than expected. Is it any shock that guidance was lowered for 2013 and 2014? Shares have been volatile and not seen a sustained recovery.

Even the news of a GE refinancing of the company’s debt has failed to yield any serious sustainable benefit to RadioShack. Another concern here is that RadioShack shares failed to hold $4.00 in late September, and the stock has punished anyone who dared to believe in the story. It is hard to get a turnaround going when you keep causing losses of 30% and more for new shareholders in a short period.

We would point out that rival Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) was on the list of promising turnarounds for 2013. Its shares were in a strong turnaround in April, and they have continued to rise since. Best Buy’s woes were a bit different than RadioShack’s, but it also was facing significant pressures that were in part overlapping with RadioShack. Best Buy has been able to shed its image of being a virtual showroom for Amazon and other great retailers. RadioShack remains in the position of having a hard time getting people in the door.

After closing at $2.80, its 52-week range is $1.90 to $4.36. Zacks Investment Research even recently gave RadioShack the dubious Bear of the Day rating and most analysts have simply dropped coverage.

Maybe The Shack should call Carl Icahn and see if he has any ideas. We would love to see this turnaround make the turn. It is just hard to visualize at the moment.