May 23, 2019 / 11:10 AM / in 23 days

Best Buy keeps full-year view, warns of higher prices from more tariffs

(Reuters) - Best Buy Co Inc on Thursday stuck to its full-year forecast due to the impact of the latest U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and warned any new levies would increase prices for U.S. shoppers, sending its shares down as much as 5.4%.

The consumer electronics retailer’s commentary on the impact of tariffs overshadowed its better-than-expected profit in the first quarter and solid second-quarter forecast.

“The impact of tariffs at 25% (proposed to be enacted) will result in price increases and will be felt by U.S. consumers,” outgoing Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly said in a conference call with analysts.

The world’s largest retailer Walmart Inc last week warned that its prices would increase due to higher tariffs, while Macy’s Inc said higher levies were already hurting its furniture business.

The proposed new tariffs on another $300 billion worth of goods from China includes higher levies on imports like smartphones and laptops and would likely result in higher retail prices.

“In a maturing category like smartphones, which lacks a compelling reason for consumers to upgrade in the near-term, we expect to see volumes decline in response to higher prices,” said Jason Benowitz, fund manager at Roosevelt Investment Group.

STRONG EARNINGS

Gross profit margins expanded 40 basis points in the quarter to 23.7%, as high margin services, such as “Geek Squad” that provides general tech support and advice on setting up smart homes resonate with customers.

An increasing share of Best Buy’s sales also comes from online, where it has been investing more to beef up delivery and its “click and collect” business that helps shoppers buy products online and collect them later from the stores.

Domestic comparable online sales rose 14.5% to $1.31 billion, making up for 15.4% of total revenue in the quarter.

A company logo is seen on a Best Buy store in Westminster, Colorado January 16, 2014. Best Buy Co shares tumbled about 30 percent on Thursday after the world's largest consumer electronics chain reported disappointing holiday sales and warned of a bigger-than-expected decline in quarterly operating margins. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS LOGO)

Excluding one-time items, Best Buy earned $1.02 per share in the first quarter ended May 4, ahead of analysts’ average estimate of 86 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Best Buy forecast adjusted profit for the second quarter to be in the range of $0.95 to $1 per share, above Wall Street expectations of $0.96 per share. Its current quarter forecast for same-store sales too was largely above estimates.

(The story corrects CEO’s name to “Hubert” from “Huber” in paragraph three.)

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Arun Koyyur

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