ECONOMY

Best Buy shares sink on lagging sales, weak outlook

Best Buy reported lagging sales and a weak outlook, dragging shares down sharply in early trading.

Same-store sales, a key indicator of a retailer's health rose 0.7 percent overall, falling short of expectations. That figure actually dipped 0.9 percent in the key North American market, a bad sign for the company.

The consumer electronics company expects same-store sales to fall between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent in the first quarter. It also gave a weak profit outlook for the first quarter and expects revenue to be flat for the year.

Shares fell $2.02, or 4.3 percent, to $44.13 in premarket trading Wednesday.

The company has been facing continued pressure from online Amazon.com Inc. and others. Best Buy Co. has spent the last several years cutting costs and beefing up its online presence and services to better compete in a sector increasingly dominated by online sellers.

The Richfield, Minnesota, company earned $607 million, or $1.91 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.95 per share. Those results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.66 per share.

But, revenue fell 1 percent to $13.48 billion in the period, missing Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $13.61 billion in revenue.

Best Buy cited "unprecedented product availability constraints across multiple vendors and categories" and weak gaming demand as reasons for the lackluster revenue this quarter.

For the year, the consumer electronics company reported profit of $1.23 billion, or $3.81 per share. Revenue was reported as $39.4 billion.

For the current quarter ending in May, Best Buy expects its per-share earnings to range from 35 cents to 40 cents. That's far short of expectations for 49 cents per share.

Along with the weak outlook, the company also announced a new $3 billion share repurchase plan expected to be completed over the next two years and a 21 percent boost to its quarterly dividend, bringing it to 34 cents per share.

Best Buy shares have risen slightly more than 3 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased almost 6 percent. The stock has risen 36 percent in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on BBY at https://www.zacks.com/ap/BBY

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Keywords: Best Buy, Earnings Report