Wednesday, 12 November 2008

How Bad Can it Get for Retail?

Hot on the heals of the Circuit City bankruptcy announced on Monday, Best Buy today announced a sharp revision to it's full year profit forecast citing the worst times in 42 years of retailing. From Bloomberg:

Best Buy Cuts Annual Profit, Sales Forecasts on Slump

Best Buy Co., the largest U.S. electronics retailer, said full-year profit will be lower than it expected because of the recent turmoil in the financial markets and the U.S. economic slump

The shares dropped as much as 17 percent in early New York trading after the chain said profit for the year through February 2009 will be $2.30 to $2.90 a share. Revenue may range from $43.7 billion to $45.5 billion, Best Buy said today in a statement.

Sales at stores open at least 14 months may decline as much as 15 percent in the four months through February as consumers grappling with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression cut back on spending. Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy’s largest electronics competitor, filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 10 after suppliers cut off credit and demanded cash for shipments.

“In 42 years of retailing, we’ve never seen such difficult times for the consumer,” Brian Dunn, president and chief operating officer, said in the statement. “People are making dramatic changes in how much they spend, and we’re not immune from those forces.”

Best Buy forecast in September adjusted full-year profit of $3.25 to $3.40 a share on revenue of $47 billion. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated profit of $3.04 a share on sales of $46.4 billion.

Best Buy dropped $2.79, or 12 percent, to $21.09 at 8:29 a.m. in trading before the New York Stock Exchange opened.

With such a wide range given on profit numbers it's clear that there is very little visibility with respect to earnings in the next couple of quarters and in such an environment it is difficult for investors to have confidence buying stocks when CEO's are saying the type of things highlighted above.