Feb. 27--Best Buy Co.'s fourth-quarter profit easily beat investors' lowered expectations, though executives said sales would remain under pressure through the start of this year.
The company said Thursday it earned $293 million, or 83 cents a diluted share, in the three months ended Feb. 1. That compares to a loss of $409 million in the same period a year ago.
Revenue was $14.5 billion, down from $14.9 billion a year ago. Sales in U.S. stores open at least one year fell 1.2 percent, more than the 0.9 percent drop the company announced last month for the first nine weeks of the quarter.
The news came a day after the company laid off 2,000 workers, about 1.4 percent of its workforce, in its biggest job action since July 2012. The company's turnaround through much of 2013 was dampened by weaker-than-expected results during the holiday period.
Adjusted for restructuring charges and other one-time issues, Best Buy's profit amounted to $1.24 in earnings per share, well above the $1.01 that analysts were expecting after they reduced forecasts last month.
Analysts back in early January were forecasting earnings of $1.62 per share. They slashed that number in the wake of Best Buy's mid-January announcement of the 0.9 percent drop in same-store sales during the holidays.
Best Buy executives in November warned they expected the holiday season to be heavily promotional and that they intended to match prices of competitors, even online sellers that tend to have a lower cost structure than the company does.
In the statement Thursday, Best Buy chief executive Hubert Joly said that the company's "Renew Blue" structural transformation is a "multiyear journey." He added, "While it is off to an encouraging start, it is still in the early stages."
The company's chief financial officer, Sharon McCollam, said Best Buy is assuming that sales will continue to be under pressure during the early part of 2014. "It is reasonable to expect that total company revenue and comparable store sales will remain slightly negative, similar to Q4 FY14, in the first half of the year," she said.
Steve Alexander -- 612-673-4553
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