Best Buy: We Have A Solution For A Problem That's Not One

| About: Best Buy (BBY)

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) traders: denial is more than a river in Egypt. In fact, denial hasn't run as thick since newspaper companies discounted the threat from online news sources then claimed they could easily make the transition online.

How'd that one go for you, Gannett (NYSE:GCI), Washington Post (WPO) and New York Times (NYSE:NYT)?

Yesterday, Best Buy, taking a cue from newspapers, announced that is was giving it away. OK, it's not literally giving its products away, but it's pulling up pretty darn close.

Apparently worried that it's being exploited as little more than an Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) showroom, Best Buy will match prices of the Internet competition, even as it says the issue of shoppers using their stores as mere browsing grounds is overblown.

Though traders cheered, sending the stock up yesterday and an additional chunk today (it's currently up .67%), the Wall Street Journal was right in terming Best Buy's stance "contradictory."

Out of the mouths of corporate officials, contradiction is never good. Worse, it's emblematic of the so-far unsolvable comparison-shopping issue that is bedeviling retailers, from Target (NYSE:TGT) to Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

But at least those retailers have the financial cushion to figure it out. Not so Best Buy.

In a tweet, CNBC's resident wise veteran, @herbgreenberg, cut the issue to the quick: "Just looking at ‪$BBY op margins... at 1.2%, down from a year ago, not much wiggle room."

Not much wiggle room indeed. Yet traders are treating the news with trumpets. That's simplistic and simplistic is no good when it comes to trading the stocks of mortally injured companies.

If any more proof is needed that traders are suffering a bad bout of premature prognostication, know that Best Buy hasn't released precise details of the price-match program. With earnings expected to decline more than 35% in 2014 in an industry littered with the carcasses of bankrupt companies, Best Buy hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt.

It's getting one - big time - here, and that's not right.

Feeding the delusion is the thought traders have been lost since the summer: that it's founder, who left under an ignoble cloud, will come back to buy the firm. This article, "Waiting For A Takeover Of Best Buy, The Patron Saint Of Lost Causes," gives you a primer about how Richard Schulze might have the will, but lack of financing means there is virtually no way.

Nearly giving away product in a way to be described in detail at a later day, adding to the onerous level of uncertainty and financial trouble, just won't help.

In the end, this price-match strategy is turning into a bit of a showdown between traders and the media. In this case, the media are right. The idea is no saving grace. Quite the opposite. Indeed, denial is flowing down the aisles of Best Buy.

A note on performance: Each Friday, we'll take a look back at my last five trading suggestions when there have been two days to determine whether I was a "hero" or a "goat." Here's a look at this week's last five.

On Best Buy: a goat. On Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ): a hero. On Dell (NASDAQ:DELL): a hero. On Alcoa (NYSE:AA): a hero. And on AAPL: a goat. That marks a good week, after a bad week, but remember - as any trader worth his or her salt knows, all that matters in the end is that your good trades outweigh your bad. We'll keep count as we go on.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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