The fourth quarter has always been the biggest for Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) for obvious reasons. Both in terms of revenue and earnings, Best Buy needs a good holiday season to satisfy its shareholders, and the company is taking some risks to make sure it meets adequate sales numbers.
Free shipping has been available for Best Buy’s online shoppers since October 25, and that will stay in force all through January 2. It is also doing a price match with Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and other online retailers. In a bid to outcompete Amazon in terms of speed of receipt, Best Buy is also offering local store pickup.
Best Buy shares have had a volatile year, down over 10% year to date, which is quite a disappointment considering the retailer has bested Wall Street earnings estimates for 11 straight quarters. It also makes a lot more money than Amazon on an annual basis and pays a 2.5% dividend, while Amazon pays nothing. Best Buy is ironically rewarded with a yawn and a price to earnings ratio of 15, while Amazon’s is pushing 1,000 with share price reaching all-time highs.
Ever since Best Buy’s flirting with going private ended in March 2013, the company has had a major turnaround. Annual operating expenses have dropped 13% with net income more than doubling since last year.
As good as Best Buy’s bottom line improvement has been, it’s still clear when comparing share price movements for Amazon and Best Buy that shareholder enthusiasm is for top-line growth, something Best Buy has not seen since 2012, and something that Amazon has seen in spades. To bring the enthusiasm back to its stock, Best Buy knows it needs solid revenue numbers this holiday season. Efficiency is there. Now Best Buy has to grow, or its stock will continue to meander without a solid up trend.
This holiday season will be a big test to see if it can move its top line in that direction, and bring its stock price up along with it.