Best Buy sales jump 36% as consumers splurge on electronics, retailer raises forecast

Customers wait outside of a Best Buy store in downtown Toronto, Ontario on November 23, 2020 to pick up their online orders.

Geoff Robbins | AFP | Getty Images

Best Buy said Thursday that sales grew 36% in the fiscal first quarter, as shoppers’ stimulus-fueled spending spree included consumer electronics.

Shares of the company more than 3% in premarket trading after the home electronics and appliance retailer raised its forecast.

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said that that consumers decided to invest in technology and kitchen appliances as they saw home values rise. She said demand “was extraordinarily high” in the three-month period.

“This demand is being driven by continued focus on the home, which encompasses many aspects of our lives including working, learning, cooking, entertaining, redecorating and remodeling,” she said in a press release. “The demand was also bolstered by government stimulus programs and the strong housing environment.”

That lifted the retailer’s expectations for the first half of the year. Chief Financial Officer Matt Bilunas said Best Buy expects same-store sales to grow 3% to 6% this year. He had previously said they would range from a decline of 2% to growth of 1%. However, he said the company anticipates customers will step up spending in other areas, such as travel and dining out, in the second half of the year.

Here’s what the company reported for the fiscal quarter ended May 1 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.23 adjusted vs. $1.39 expected
  • Revenue: $11.64 billion vs. $10.44 billion expected

Best Buy’s first-quarter net income rose to $595 million, or $2.32 per share, up from $159 million, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it earned $2.23 per share, more than the $1.39 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose to $11.64 billion from $8.56 billion a year earlier, outpacing estimates of $10.44 billion.

Sales online and at stores open at least 14 months grew by 37.2%, higher than 22.4% growth that analysts expected, according to StreetAccount. The company said it had sales growth across almost all categories, with the largest gains in home theater, computing and appliances.

This is the first quarter when Best Buy is facing year-over-year comparisons to its business during the pandemic. A year ago, the retailer saw unusual shopping patterns play out as Americans prepared for long stays at home and quickly shifted to working and attending school remotely. Sales initially spiked and then dropped off in the year-ago quarter, as the retailer chose to shut stores and temporarily switch to a curbside pickup-only model.

Best Buy is betting that the pandemic will permanently change consumer behavior — and has said that will mean changes to its workforce and stores, too. The company laid off about 5,000 employees in early February. It is testing a new store format with a smaller sales floor and a larger backroom to fulfill online orders. And company leaders have said its nationwide store footprint will shrink, too, as it carefully reviews lease renewals.

As of Wednesday’s close, Best Buy shares are up 17% so far this year. Shares hit a 52-week high of $128.57 earlier this month and closed Wednesday at $116.96. The company’s market value is $29.29 billion.

Read the company’s press release here.

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