The company has been executing well in a very difficult and competitive environment and reports results for fourth quarter fiscal year 2017 (ended January) on Wednesday.
The stock could have been higher, but has settled down after it had a big pop after third-quarter results. On Nov. 17, Best Buy reported fiscal third-quarter non-GAAP earnings of $0.62 per share, $0.15 higher than the consensus estimate. Revenue rose 1.4%, year to year, to $8.95 billion. Domestic same-store sales increased 1.8%.
The better-than-expected earnings came from a 69-basis-point jump in gross margin and slightly lower expenses. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin widened 79 basis points to 3.59%. Best Buy seems to be getting increased vendor support and gaining modest market share as competitors close stores.
For the fourth quarter, management guided EPS to a range between $1.62 and $1.67 on revenue of $13.4 billion-$13.6 billion. Comparable sales are expected to range from (1.0%) to 1%.
The fourth quarter should benefit from a lower tax rate. The company guided to a tax rate range of 35%-35.5%, which is substantially below the third quarter rate of 37.4%. In addition, the outstanding share count is expected to be lower in the fourth quarter.
Over the last few years, Best Buy has cut costs to offset slowing revenue growth. Revenue is expected to be up less than 1% this year and next. Meanwhile, in just the first nine months of the year, the company has bought back 30 million shares, which has reduced the count by 8.5%. Year to date, Best Buy has returned a total of $931 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.
I think the stock is pricing in all the good news, including any tax reform. Best Buy has done a good job cutting costs and rolling them into share buybacks to push earnings higher, but it remains to be seen how much more cutting the company can produce.
Without any significant revenue growth, it's hard to recommend buying this stock, especially after this run. I think there are better buys out there.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.