Earns-BestBuy 2ndLd-Writethru 04-02 Web

Best Buy beats Wall Street forecast

RICHFIELD, Minn. — Best Buy Co., the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, said today its fourth-quarter earnings slipped 3 percent as customer traffic slowed after the holidays, but it still beat Wall Street estimates.

Its shares surged more than 4 percent in morning trading.

The company said its profit fell to $737 million, or $1.71 per share, in the quarter ended March 1, from $763 million, or $1.55 per share last year. Earnings per share rose because there were fewer shares outstanding in the most recent quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected a smaller $1.65 per share profit. Best Buy in February predicted a modest decline in fourth-quarter profit.


Revenue rose 4 percent to $13.42 billion from $12.9 billion a year ago. Analysts expected revenue of $13.19 billion.

Sales at stores open at least 14 months declined 0.2 percent in the quarter, despite growth in sales internationally. The decline at U.S. stores was 0.9 percent.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Jim Muehlbauer said Best Buy is planning for a "soft consumer environment in the near-term," and that it’s counting on second-half growth to offset "modest declines" in the first half.

For fiscal 2009, the company expects earnings of $3.25 to $3.40 per share on revenue of $43 billion to $44 billion. Analysts expect a profit of $3.31 per share. Best Buy said it expects comparable store sales to grow 1 percent to 3 percent for the year, with the fastest growth at its international stores.

For the full year, Best Buy earned $1.41 billion, or $3.12 per share, up from $1.38 billion, or $2.79 per share, during the prior year. Revenue rose to $40 billion from $35.9 billion a year ago.

Best Buy shares rose $1.93, or 4.5 percent, to $45.40 in morning trading.

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