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Best Buy Marches Higher as CEO Steps Aside

Investors expect the big electronics juggernaut to continue squashing its competitors.
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The guard is changing at

Best Buy

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, but investors don't expect the nation's largest consumer electronics chain to let its guard down.

The company, regarded as among the best run in the retail sector, Monday made a number of changes in its top ranks. Investors bid the stock up modestly, reflecting the widely held assumption that the fast-growing company has planned its management succession sufficiently to avoid any setbacks.

Best Buy said Monday that founder Richard Schulze is stepping down as CEO. Bradbury Anderson, 52, previously vice chairman, president and chief operating officer, will take over the reins on June 30, while Schulze will remain chairman. At the same time Best Buy announced the promotion of Allen Lenzmeier to president and chief operating officer and Michael Kesky to president of Best Buy Stores. Both Lenzmeier, 58, and Kesky, 47, are directors of the company.

"This decision allows me to direct more of my daily energy to personal interests, while ensuring that the company I founded 35 years ago remains as vigorous in the future as it is today," said Schulze, 61, in a statement.

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Best Buy vs. Circuit City, five years

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Best Buy shares lately traded up $1.14, or 1.7% at $68.75, regaining some of the ground lost in Friday's session when rival

Circuit City's

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tanked following an earnings warning. However, most analysts say Circuit City's troubles don't extend to the industry as a whole. Best Buy, which raised its guidance in early January, isn't expected to similarly disappoint investors when it reports financial results on March 7.

Indeed, even as the economy has slowed down and some retailers outside the thriving discount sector have seen growth grind to a halt, Best Buy has continued to perform to expecations and above, keeping its stock surging.

Schulze founded the company as a single audio store in 1966 in St. Paul, Minn. Today it operates 1,900 stores, generating revenue of about $20 billion annually and earnings of about $500 million. Its stock, meanwhile, has made investors plenty of money along the way. On Monday

The Wall Street Journal

named Best Buy No. 1 in total return to shareholders among 1,000 publicly traded companies for the five years ended Dec. 31, 2001.