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Best Buy Posts Sales Gains in December

Friday, 08 Jan 2010 11:11 AM

Best Buy Co. saw sharply higher sales in December as consumers bought notebook computers, TVs and mobile phones ahead of the holidays.

However, the electronics retailer left its earnings guidance for the year unchanged, and shares fell $1.09, or 2.6 percent, to $40.45 early Friday.

Sales in stores open at least a year rose 8.2 percent, compared with a 6.5 percent drop a year ago. That includes a 9.3 percent rise domestically and a 3.5 percent increase internationally.

Total sales rose 13 percent to $8.5 billion.

Consumer electronics and appliance sales were strong, but movies and music were weaker. Online revenue in December rose 34 percent compared with last year as traffic to its Web site grew.

Electronics were one of the top areas for holiday shoppers, with spending rising 7.3 percent in December, according to data service MasterCard SpendingPulse, which estimates spending in all forms including cash.

U.S. December sales in stores open at least a year for retailers in general rose 2.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the International Council for Shopping Centers sales index; the figure fell 2 percent from all of 2008.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Alan Rifkin had predicted sales in stores open at least a year would rise 9 percent to 10 percent in December.

The Minneapolis company said it still expects to earn $3.00 to $3.15 per share this fiscal year, excluding one-time items. Analysts expect a profit of $3.10 per share. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Sales in stores open at least a year are a key retail measure because they track sales in established locations, instead of newly opened ones.

Best Buy, the largest specialty electronics chain the U.S., has gained market share since rival Circuit City liquidated last year. But it still faces tough competition from discounters and online retailers. Still, it said it believed it gained domestic market share in December compared with a year earlier.

Morningstar analyst R. J. Hottovy said the results were positive, and said the stock may be down because "expectations may have gotten ahead of themselves."

He added that the category was very competitive over the holiday season, so price cuts may have led to some pressure on Best Buy's profit margins.

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Best Buy Co. saw sharply higher sales in December as consumers bought notebook computers, TVs and mobile phones ahead of the holidays.However, the electronics retailer left its earnings guidance for the year unchanged, and shares fell $1.09, or 2.6 percent, to $40.45 early...
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2010-11-08
Friday, 08 Jan 2010 11:11 AM
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