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Joly has also worked hard to revive Best Buy. He recruited Sharon McCollam, a former Williams Sonoma executive and Wall Street favorite, as chief financial officer, and Scott Durchslag, who previously led Expedia, as e-commerce chief. Joly also appointed Shawn Score, who helped launched Best Buy Mobile, as head of U.S. retail.
Joly also launched “Renew Blue,” a plan to improve performance by focusing on basic but crucial goals like boosting Internet sales, reducing product returns, and devoting more store space to faster growing products like appliances, tablets, and smartphones.
Joly’s efforts have paid off. The company reported flat sales for December, when Wall Street expected a decline. Analysts now expect robust sales for January. Over the past few weeks, three analysts, including Rifkin of Barclays, upgraded their ratings on Best Buy stock.
“We believe the risk-reward ratio at this juncture for Best Buy is skewed positively,” Rifkin wrote.
One institutional investor told the Star Tribune his firm bought back some Best Buy shares in December not because of a possible Schulze offer but because of the growing strength of the overall business.
Also helping Best Buy, the overall consumer electronics market is showing signs of life. Overall sales grew about 4 percent in the fourth quarter after three consecutive quarters of declines, according to the market research firm NPD Group.
“On an overall basis, we are seeing some stabilization,” said Stephen Baker, a NPD analyst. “That’s good for Best Buy.”
Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113