A very merry Christmas at Best Buy with sales booming

Shares soared more than 15 per cent in late morning trading

Best Buy put up some big holiday sales numbers Wednesday, more evidence that Americans are willing and able to spend on gadgets and big TVs.

The nation’s consumer electronics chain delivered a better-than-expected 3 per cent increase in sales at established stores for the fiscal fourth quarter. The company also issued an annual profit forecast that was roughly in line with Wall Street expectations.

Shares soared more than 15 per cent in late morning trading.

A dire report from the U.S. Commerce Department this month on retail sales cast a pall over the sector, raising concerns that an extended period of elevated consumer confidence had ended abruptly. But the holiday business has proven to be a mixed bag as some retailers are responding faster to a more competitive landscape as well as a shoppers’ shift to online.

Other notable retailers like Walmart also had big holiday quarters. T.J. Maxx parent reported on Wednesday strong sales driven by more customer visits. Macy’s slogged through a tough holiday season and said on Tuesday that 2019 would remain challenging. Meanwhile, a slowdown in the housing market is tempering sales at home improvement chains Home Depot and Lowe’s.

J.C. Penney, Target and Nordstrom are among the retailers that are slated to report final fourth-quarter figures in the next few days.

Still, a slowdown in the economy could present challenges to retailers. And declining tax refunds could dampen spending in the first quarter. In fact, Best Buy acknowledged that it has seen some weakness in sales during the current quarter as the volume and dollar amount of tax refunds has fallen. It said it was monitoring the situation.

Nevertheless, Best Buy has excelled in holding off increasing competition from Amazon and other players by expanding its online business, speeding up deliveries and adding more services to enhance its relationship with its customers. Online sales now account for 22 per cent of its U.S. business.

It was only a few years ago when skeptics were ready to write the obituary of Best Buy. But under Hubert Joly, who took over the helm as CEO in 2012, the company is being reinvented. While the chain is focusing on driving online revenue, it’s also working to build deeper relationships and increase total revenue from customers who are shopping both online and in stores. That means reducing the time a customer has to spend at the pickup counter.

It’s also means expanding services. Its free adviser service where salespeople visit customers at home to make recommendations on TVs and other electronics has been doing well. As of the latest quarter, it has signed up more than one million members.

The company is also pushing more into the health field, acquiring a company last year called GreatCall that provides emergency response devices for the aging.

Additionally, Best Buy said that it now offers same-day delivery on thousands of items in 40 metropolitan areas and next day delivery in 60 metropolitan areas.

“Historically…we’ve been focused on transactions and selling products,” Joly told investors during the earnings call on Wednesday. “We’re moving toward selling solutions and building relationships. This journey is at the beginning and we’re learning.”

The Richfield, Minnesota, company, posted per-share earnings of $2.72, beating last year’s fourth quarter’s $2.42. It also topped the $2.56 that analysts were expecting, as well as its own previous guidance. For the year, earnings per share came in at $5.32, surpassing last year’s $4.42.

The company estimates earnings for the next fiscal year to be in the $5.45 to $5.65, which is roughly in line with the $5.49 that Wall Street has been projecting.

The nation’s biggest consumer electronics retailer said comparable-stores sales, a key indicator of a company’s health, rose 4.8 per cent for the year, extending its streak to five years of growth.

Best Buy raised its quarterly dividend by 11 per cent, to 50 cents per share. The board of directors also approved a new $3 billion stock repurchase, replacing an existing authorization to repurchase $1.5 billion of the company’s shares.

Shares rose $9.39 per share to $69.72 in late morning trading.

AP Business Writer Matt Ott in Madrid contributed to this report.

Anne D’Innocenzio And Matt Ott, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Jordan now a key member on staff at Parksville business

Disability Awareness Month celebrated around province

RDN wants to play role in Ballenas track upgrade

Bringing dilapidated facility up to standard could cost close to $1M

Qualicum Beach joins in on global climate strike

Participants urge government to adequately address climate crisis

Coombs athlete, 91, brings home five gold medals from 55+ BC Games

Buschhaus now has 217 career senior games medals

Parksville-area thieves target catalytic converters

RCMP: ‘We’re getting the same thing in terms of theft of gas’

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Most Read