Best Buy 4Q loss narrows; deadline for Shulze bid passes

Best Buy layoffs
The Best Buy campus in Richfield, Minn. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Best Buy is cutting 400 jobs at its Richfield, Minn. headquarters.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Best Buy posted a fourth quarter loss of $409 million, an improvement over a loss of $1.82 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Meanwhile, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly indicates founder Richard Schulze seems to have halted his months-long quest to buy the company and take it private. Thursday was the deadline for Schulze to make a qualified offer.

"No such offer was received," Joly said. "Despite the significant amount of time management has spent on this process, the organization has remained focused on our "renew blue" transformation."

Schulze had been trying to line up investors and lenders he needed to help finance a buy-out of Best Buy. Joly said Schulze also introduced to Best Buy several private equity firms that wanted to invest in the retailer.

But Joly said the company decided not to accept their offers because they would have decreased the value of current shareholders' stock.

Best Buy share are up about 1 percent so far today.

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Under Joly, Best Buy has been working to turn around results as it faces tough competition from online retailers and discounters. It has invested in training employees and implemented a price matching policy.

The results show that Best Buy's new management is making progress, said NBG Productions analyst Brian Sozzi.

He said there are "striking positives" in the results, including better-than-expected gross margin -- the percentage of each dollar in revenue a company actually keeps -- and an 11.2 percent increase in U.S. online sales.

"Every transaction online was essentially the equivalent of convincing groups of previously disenchanted customers that yes, Best Buy is finally price competitive," Sozzi said.

Earlier this week Minneapolis-based Best Buy announced 400 job cuts at its headquarters as part of a $725 million cost-cutting plan. On Friday the company said it expects to announce more job cuts later this year.

The company also said it plans $700 million to $800 million in capital spending and $150 million to $200 million in other expenses in fiscal 2014 as it invests in its business, mainly online and mobile channels. It plans to revamp by fiscal 2015.

Its loss after paying preferred dividends for the three months ended Feb. 2 totaled $409 million, or $1.21 per share, for the three months ended Feb. 2. That compares with a loss of $1.82 billion, or $5.17 per share, in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding restructuring and other costs, adjusted earnings came to $1.64 per share.

Revenue was nearly flat at $16.71 billion, from $16.67 billion last year. Analysts expected $16.29 billion.

U.S. revenue in stores open at least one year rose 0.9 percent, helped by performance from Best Buy's standalone mobile stores. International revenue in stores open at least one year fell 6.6 percent due to weak results in Canada and China.

Best Buy also absorbed restructuring charges of $203 million related to closing stores and severance. It took an $822 million impairment charge to write off worse than expected results in Canada and China as well as $44 million in asset impairments.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)