That loyalty may be tested when the Minneapolis-based electronics retailer reports its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday. Even after a lackluster holiday season, Best Buy shares have managed to gain about 6% so far this year compared to a 0.4% rise for the S&P 500. More recently, the stock has been resilient in the face of weaker-than-expected earnings from a bevy of bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Macy's(M) - Get Report , Kohl's(KSS) - Get Report and Nordstrom(JWN) - Get Report amid a spring-time pullback in consumer spending. Discounter Target(TGT) - Get Report , which managed to squeak out a 1.2% same-store sales increase to start the year, posted a warning with its second-quarter outlook due to slowing sales post Easter.
Hopeful investors may be banking on Best Buy benefiting from consumers continuing to invest in their homes, buying appliances and other small electronics at a nice clip. It's a trend that led to another quarter of sterling results from home-improvement retailersHome Depot(HD) - Get Report and Lowe's(LOW) - Get Report . Appliances account for about 8% of Best Buy's annual sales, and were a relative bright spot throughout 2015.
But those looking at Best Buy from that singular perspective may be forgetting a couple things.
First, by Best Buy's own admission, the first quarter isn't expected to be particularly robust. Best Buy expects total revenue in the first quarter to decline 2.4% to 3.6% year over year. Same-store sales are seen down 1% to 2%. Underscoring the profit margin pressure on many of its products, Best Buy forecast first-quarter earnings of 31 cents to 35 cents a share. A year ago, earnings came in at 37 cents.
Additionally, the majority of Best Buy's store floor is devoted to consumer electronics, which appears to have seen mixed demand in the first quarter.
"Our consumer electronics business has recently been the category that experienced the most competitive in macroeconomic pressure; we assume competition in this space will continue to be fierce for the foreseeable future, especially as prices decrease on 4K TVs," HH Gregg (HGG) CEO Robert J. Riesbeck told analysts on a May 19 call after delivering a lackluster set of results. Target said sales in electronics declined due to "secular industry challenges."
Wrote JPMorgan analyst Christopher Horvers in a May 16 note to clients, "We continue to be medium-term bearish on Best Buy given the peaking TV cycle, structurally slowing mobile trends on the lengthening replacement cycle and a fading cost-cutting program." Slowing demand for mobile phones is certainly something that tech giant Apple(AAPL) - Get Report shed light on with disappointing results in its latest quarter and a soft outlook.
Finally, Home Depot and Lowe's had such bang-up quarters in appliances one has to wonder how much business Best Buy was able to scoop up. Lowe's saw a mid-single digit percentage same-store sales increase in its appliance business due to an expanded number of offerings in its stores. Home Depot said its appliance business added 0.5% to its overall 6.5% same-store sales gain.