Don't Let Best Buy Distract You

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Once a company stops delivering, it tries to live by its wits.

For example, it times big announcements to when earnings are on deck. Many in the media will pay attention to the announcement, making it a tool of distraction for the earnings.

With this in mind, let's look at the two ways to cover the news that Best Buy ( BBY) plans to name Hubert Joly, the chief executive of hotel and restaurant company Carlson, as its next CEO.

Near the top, The New York Times reminds us in no uncertain terms: "Best Buy is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday, when it is expected to provide further detail on its own turnaround plans."

The Wall Street Journal, by contrast, provides absolutely no reminder that Best Buy, in the process of getting its clock cleaned by Amazon.com ( AMZN) and Wal-Mart ( WMT), will be reporting earnings tomorrow.

It looks to be a brutal quarter. Analysts expect earnings of about 31 cents a share, down from 47 cents in last year's second quarter. Worse, analysts have trimmed their numbers considerably in recent weeks and months. If Best Buy still disappoints, look out below.

Though The Times did well to mention the coming earnings, it didn't go far enough. Joly's appointment news breaking on Monday means that Best Buy has bought itself a touch of time for Tuesday's earnings. No matter how bad earnings are -- and they'll be bad -- Best Buy can point to the appointment as evidence that a turnaround plan has been initiated, but it won't have to be too specific about it. After all, Joly was just appointed.

Meanwhile, the messy involvement of Richard Schulze, founder and top stockholder, who is agitating to bid for control of the company, will also be relegated to an afterthought.

The timing of the Joly announcement, coming a day before earnings, is designed to help make you forget the bad numbers and all the attendant drama. I sure looks like the media has already forgotten.

But numbers and drama always rear back to drive stock prices, so make sure that you, unlike The Wall Street Journal, pay attention.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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