There was a while, from the start of 2018 until the beginning of September, when investors believed that Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) had broken free from Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) gravity. That has been short-lived. Best Buy stock has collapsed to a 52-week low as it becomes clear that its lead in store-based consumer electronics has become less valuable.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Best Buy primarily due to weakness in sales of TVs, iPhones and games. The stock plunged on the action. However, the suspicions that Best Buy will be hurt by Amazon and other retailers with consumer electronics departments go back years. Hubert Joly, board chair and chief executive, almost certainly has too large an employee count at 120,000 and too many stores at just shy of 1,000 in the United States. This store count has been close to 1,000 since 2009. Best Buy is one of the few retailers that have not pruned underperforming stores.
Amazon has a tremendous consumer electronics storefront. It also has several advantages Best Buy does not. First among these is Alexa-powered artificial intelligence power home systems. Another is its Fire TV system. And Best Buy does not have anything like Prime, which has a wide array of advantages, from free shipping to music to video streaming.
Finally, Best Buy cannot instantly change prices and have them seen by an extraordinarily large audience the moment they are posted.
Best Buy no longer can match Amazon in any category, which means its long-term sales trend is down.