Best Buy sees resilient work-from-home demand, raises sales forecast

Aug 24 (Reuters) – Best Buy Co Inc said on Tuesday strong sales of home theater systems and work-from-home computer equipment despite market fears of pandemic-fueled growth shrinking prompted it to raise its annual comparable sales forecast, sending its shares up 5%.

The consumer electronics retailer’s sales spiked last year when Americans, restricted by stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raced to buy laptops and other computer accessories for their home offices and remote learning setups.

Best Buy said sustained demand, as well as government stimulus for boosting the pandemic-battered economy, and improving wages helped lift second-quarter comparable sales by 20%.

The company also forecast a smaller-than-expected fall in third-quarter comparable sales.

To get ahead of supply chain bottlenecks that have plagued manufacturers and retailers across industries, Best Buy said it stocked up on “as much inventory as possible” during the second quarter and was confident it would avoid empty shelves during the crucial holiday season.

A sign marks a Best Buy store in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

It raised its full-year comparable sales growth forecast to 9% to 11% from 3% to 6%.

“Our original outlook reflected a scenario in which customers would resume or accelerate spend in areas that were slowed during the pandemic, such as travel and dining out,” Best Buy finance chief Matthew Bilunas said.

“Although we are seeing some shift in consumer spending, the impact has been less pronounced.”

The upward revision to its guidance reflect Best Buy’s expectation that back-to-school/college and holiday selling seasons will be robust, Moody’s Vice President Charlie O’Shea said.

The company earned an adjusted $2.98 per share in the second quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.85 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Best Buy on Tuesday also said it expects to close about 30 U.S. stores this year, compared to roughly 20 closures annually over the last two years.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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