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Best Buy Junk Rating's False Foundation

Stocks in this article: BBY AMZN WMT COST MSFT DELL

So what is next for Best Buy? Investors would probably do well to forget ratings agencies entirely.

Best Buy shares currently are testing six-month highs above $20 after analysts at Goldman Sachs see reason to believe the company's management change and revamped strategy may eventually succeed.

"Management changes are catalyzing a more realistic approach to pricing; substantial cost cuts; and, the beginnings of a more concerted effort online," wrote Goldman Sachs analysts in a Tuesday upgrade of Best Buy shares to 'buy."

Goldman Sachs analysts give the company a price target of $25 a share.

Such expectations appear to hinge on recently-announced restructuring efforts and a commitment to match online prices, which may help the company win back electronics sales from the likes of Amazon.

Meanwhile, a fresh set of tablet, smartphone and PC products launched by competitors such as Microsoft (MSFT), BlackBerry (BBRY), Samsung and even Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) indicate Best Buy may benefit from a new tech sector product cycle.

Bond investors may still have reason view Best Buy's turnaround skeptically. Gimme Credit analyst Carol Levenson highlights that Best Buy saw its operating losses accelerate in the fourth quarter as free cash flow dropped year-over-year from $1.4 billion to $965 million.

While Levenson expects strong free cash flow in 2013, a forward looking analysis of Best Buy's strategy after Schulze's withdrawal gives the credit analyst reason to be cautious. "We are projecting strong free cash flow this year, but fear it may be directed towards shareholder enhancement," Leveson wrote in a March 6 client note.

Best Buy is likely to spend 2013 under the scrutiny of some investors hoping for a turnaround and others who forecast the company's eventual demise. Schulze's takeover proposal, however, is definitively off the table.

It's time for S&P and Fitch to give investors a full picture what Schulze's withdrawal means, given the tough actions both agencies took in the wake of the founders buyout proposal.

A S&P spokesperson directed TheStreet to the firm's March 4 ratings bulletin, while Brian Bertsch, a Fitch spokesperson, referred to the firm's January report.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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