Best Buy Turnaround Yields Shareholder Returns

Best Buy logo
Source: courtesy of Best Buy
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) reported fourth-quarter and full-year fiscal 2015 results before markets opened Tuesday. For the quarter, the big-box retailer of electronics gear reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.48 and $14.21 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, Best Buy reported EPS of $1.20 on revenue of $14.03 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.35 and $14.35 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Best Buy reported EPS of $2.60 on revenues of $40.34 billion, compared with EPS of $2.07 and revenues of $40.61 billion in fiscal 2014. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $2.45 on revenues of $41.47 billion.

All totals exclude sales in China. The company has completed the sale of its Chinese business and the amounts were reported as discontinued operations.

Best Buy also announced that it will pay a special, one-time dividend of $0.51 per share next month, increase its regular dividend by 21% from $0.19 to $0.23 a share and resume its stock buyback plan under an existing authorization of $5 billion with a plan to repurchase $1 billion in stock over the next three years.

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The company’s outlook is not quite as picturesque. Best Buy expects same-store sales in its Enterprise division to be flat to down by low-single digits. The division posted same-store sales growth of 2% in the fourth quarter. The decline is attributed to lower sales of tablets and to the effect of higher comps in the first half of last year.

Adjusted operating income is forecast to be down 30 to 50 basis points, including a one-time benefit of 15 basis points in the first quarter of last year. The decline is attributed “economic and growth pressures,” more investment in growth for the 2016 fiscal year, and an expected rise in SG&A spending.

Domestic same-store sales rose 2.8% and international sales fell 4% in the fourth quarter. Online sales in the United State rose 9.7%, compared with a rise of 25.8% in the prior year fourth quarter.

The company’s CEO said:

We will also, in fiscal 2016, be facing industry and economic pressures on our business related to deflationary pricing and weak industry demand in certain product categories that we discussed last quarter. To win against this backdrop, investing now is imperative. While these investments will put pressure on our fiscal 2016 operating income rate, we believe they leverage our executional momentum and will allow us to build a differentiated customer experience and a foundation for long-term success.

The one-time dividend and dividend increase will more than offset the soft outlook. It is worth noting that CEO Hubert Joly and his management team have regularly underpromised and overdelivered. Best Buy’s fourth-quarter profit performance was sharply better than the company’s own estimates. The only weakness came in sales, which were light both for the quarter and for the year. One other change to note is the sharp drop in online sales growth, from nearly 26% to less than 10%.

Shares traded up about 4.2% in Tuesday’s premarket session, at $40.26, above the 52-week range of $23.87 to $40.03. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $41.20 before the results were announced.

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