Best Buy’s Gross Margin Impact on Holiday Promotions

| About: Best Buy (BBY)

Cyber Monday sales passed $1 billion for the first time this year and could point to higher sales going into this holiday season. However heavy discounting could impact gross profits margins and overall profitability limiting the benefits to shareholders. We estimate a 4% price sensitivity to a 1 percentage point change in gross margins.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) competes with other major retailers including Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), and Radioshack (NYSE:RSH). Our price estimate for Best Buy stock currently stands at $40.88, roughly 5% below its market price and implies flat US gross profit margins of around 25% beyond 2010.

Sales Data So Far Is Encouraging

A National Retail Federation survey quoted by The Wall Street Journal cited an 8.7% YOY jump in online and store traffic, to 212 million shoppers during the period between Thanksgiving and Sunday. Furthermore, average spend estimates showed a 6.4% YOY increase to $365. [1]

comScore data show that Cyber Monday sales barely edged past the $1 billion mark beating the $887 million mark set last year, which is a healthy 15% increase. And if past years are any guide, comScore data show that the first three weeks of December are the highest sales for the holiday season suggesting that we could see higher sales in the coming weeks. [2] We note that the highest online sales day ever was December 13, last year.

US Gross Profit Margin

Aggressive pricing deals used to boost market share and drive top-line improvement could hinder bottom-line profit margins. Best Buy advertised its Cyber Monday 2-Day Sale alongside free shipping on orders of $25 and above earlier this week.

We currently estimate a 500 basis point (0.5%) US gross margin improvement for Best Buy in 2010, to about 25%, and we forecast it will stay at this level in the coming years.

A 1 percentage point change in gross profit in 2011 and years thereafter translates to around 4% change in price estimate.

As we move into December, we will monitor if increased sales are due to promotions and bargain hunting vs. increased consumer spending. We anticipate further details regarding Best Buy’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday results to be provided during the company’s fiscal year Q3 2011, earnings call on December 14.


  1. See Wall Street Journal: Store Traffic, Sales Rise Over Black Friday Weekend
  2. See comScore data as reported by TechCrunch.

Disclosure: No position