DELAFIELD, Wis. (Stockpickr) -- When the market is struggling and selling off, one of my favorite strategies is to look for names that are bucking the downtrend and displaying relative strength.
During the recent market decline -- which for now has subsided -- one stock that continued to pop up on my chart scans was tech products retailer Best Buy (BBY). Best Buy has been a troubled stock so far in 2014, with shares collapsing from around $40 a share to its recent low of $22.01 a share. That more-than-30% decline is enough to make Best Buy shareholders want to rush for the exits.
Best Buy's problems are widely known on the Street. At the start of 2014, the company reported that U.S. same-store sales dropped 0.9% and overall revenue trended lower by 2.6% during the all-important holiday season. Best Buy blamed its sales problems on supply constraints for popular products, a drop in customer traffic and a weak mobile phone environment. Despite all of those issues, many on the Street believe that Best Buy is an attractive turnaround story as it starts to shift its business model more toward the online customer.
Make no mistake about it -- Best Buy has been forced into changing its business model in order to survive since Amazon.com and other online retailers are stepping up their Internet selling game. One major thing Best Buy is implementing to make its online experience better is its ship-from-store initiative, which it has now kicked off in over 1,400 stores. The goal of this plan is to accelerate online growth, improve online conversion and juice store comps. No customer wants to order something online and have to wait forever to get it, so let's give Best Buy some credit for taking these steps.
Another major business focus for Best Buy is its Geek Squad service. Anyone who has ever had a technical issue with a computer or other electronic device knows exactly how valuable tech support is. I recently had a TV I bought from Best Buy, along with a sound system, mounted on my wall and calibrated by Geek Squad, and the service was excellent, reasonably priced and timely. Best Buy should be marketing Geek Squad more aggressively and getting more out of this underutilized asset.
Best Buy is a sitting in the driver's seat to capitalize on a sea change in how consumers use big-box retailers. Consumers aren't likely to buy a big-ticket item such as a TV online until they've seen it in person. That said, they might go to Best Buy to view the TV then shop online to find the cheapest price. This is where Best Buy needs to streamline its online operations and cost structure so it can compete on price and still provide consumers a great customer experience when demoing an electronic product. I think this means fewer, more strategically located stores with a staff that is knowledgable about how the modern customer shops.