U.S. consumer electronics leader Best Buy Co reported a better-than-expected 52 percent jump in third-quarter profit on Tuesday on strong sales of laptops and video games, and raised its full-year earnings forecast.
Its stock fell nearly 5 percent early in the session after the retailer said current-quarter results would be pressured by calendar changes, but recovered to close up about 1 percent.
Best Buy is an excellent example of a company that is taking advantage of its competition, said Alan Lancz, president of an investment advisory firm in Toledo, Ohio, which owns Best Buy stock.
Lancz added that Best Buy was making the right moves longer term, with its international expansion and move into higher-margin products.
Profit rose to $228 million, or 53 cents a share, in the third quarter ended December 1, from $150 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected 41 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue increased 17 percent to $9.9 billion, topping the $9.4 billion analysts expected. U.S. revenue rose 15 percent, while international sales jumped 32 percent, led by China.
Sales at stores open at least 14 months, or same-store sales, rose 6.7 percent.
Best Buy said sales were helped by a calendar shift that added an extra week after the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which typically brings increased customer traffic.
It also cited increased sales of big-ticket items such as video gaming consoles, notebook computers, navigation devices and flat-panel televisions.
Minneapolis-based Best Buy and Circuit City Stores Inc face challenges as the housing slowdown and rising fuel and food costs pressure consumer spending.
Best Buy has been gaining market share by focusing more intensely on customer needs, and is expected to be a key beneficiary this holiday season as shoppers buy games and fancier TVs. The retailer makes 70 percent of its full-year earnings in the second half.
We're seeing strength in fairly high price-point merchandise, Best Buy Chief Executive Brad Anderson told Reuters. I think the consumer is stronger than some of that fear that's being registered.
The retailer said sales growth in the current quarter was expected to moderate from the third quarter. It cited the extra week that boosted the third quarter, and added that the fourth quarter includes 13 weeks versus 14 a year earlier.
During a conference call, Best Buy said its full-year forecast would imply fourth-period profit in a range of $1.70 to $1.80 a share, below the $1.82 a share expected by analysts, according to Reuters Estimates.
The calendar shift that helped in (the third quarter) will hurt in (the fourth quarter), and (cost) leverage will be harder to achieve, Sanford Bernstein analyst Colin McGranahan said in a research note.
In the third quarter, the entertainment software and home office categories posted the highest sales growth, Best Buy said. In the TV segment, double-digit growth in flat-panel sets was offset by lower sales of projection and tube TVs.
Same-store sales fell 1.8 percent for appliances, hurt by the weak U.S. housing market.
Best Buy now expects full-year earnings of $3.10 to $3.20 a share, up from a September forecast of $3 to $3.15.
Best Buy shares closed up 48 cents to $51.62 on the New York Stock Exchange after earlier falling as low as $48.77. Circuit City shares fell 7 cents, or 1 percent, to $6.62.
Best Buy's stock has risen about 5 percent this year, while Circuit City has fallen 65 percent.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Coogan; Editing by John Wallace/Jeffrey Benkoe)