Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) started a turnaround under CEO Hubert Joly who joined the huge consumer electronics company in August 2012. The company had been damaged by the success of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and the loss of its CEO as well as its chairman and founder Richard Schulze. Schulze considered trying to take Best Buy private, another distraction for a company trying to move out of a difficult period.
Joly was credited with getting Best Buy’s same store sales back on track and an increase in its revenue and earnings. But, the recovery was short lived. During the 2013 holiday period, its earnings moved backward. For the nine weeks ending on January 4, sales fell 2.6%, and comparable store results dropped 0.9%
Best Buy has not been able to escape two trends:
Prices on many consumer electronics mainstays have continued to fall. Examples of these are TV screens and personal computers. Best Buy has not been able to diversify its inventory enough to offset this.
More problematic is the rise of Amazon and other online retailers. Investors thought that, because of lower prices and better e-commerce efforts, Best Buy had stopped the flow of customers who were leaving to do business with America’s largest e-commerce company.
Amazon has recently been helped by the rise in sales of its Kindle tablets and e-readers and the success of its Amazon Prime service which includes streaming video services. Best Buy does not have an answer to either of these.
Best Buy investors have taken much of the brunt of the collapse in optimism about the company. After a run up which more than doubled the company’s stock from the end of 2012 through November 2013, the shares stumbled since. They’re down 35% this year alone.
Joly has no way to easily fix Best Buy if he can fix it at all. The challenges the company faced before he took his job have not gone away.
As a matter of fact, based on Best Buy’s results for the end of last year, they have gotten worse.
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