Best Buy Competition Headwinds Are Diminishing: Analyst
Following the recent jump in Best Buy's stock price, Piper Jaffray analysts upgraded the company's shares to "overweight" in a report that de-emphasized "showrooming" as a threat to the consumer electronics retailer.
Concerns that customers were using the retailer as a "showroom" to test out products, only to then purchase them online for less later, had contributed to Best Buy stock's decline in 2012 before it bottomed in late December.
Although the stock has skyrocketed 80 percent since then, Piper Jaffray analysts said it continues to look attractive. Much of the gain is likely due to the elimination of any bankruptcy situation for the retailer, they added.
New CEO Hubert Joly's announcement that Best Buy would match competitors' pricing year round has also provided support for the retailer's shares.
"The bottom line is there's really not a lot of pricing disparity on big-ticket items," said Peter Keith, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. "It's a perception issue so they're attacking that perception issue with price match. I think you're going to see it advertised a lot more in the coming year."
The collection of sales tax by online retailers, including Amazon.com, in many states will also help to level the pricing playing field over time, according to the report.
Although Keith told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that Best Buy's headwinds from competition remain, he said he thinks they are diminishing.
The firm upped its price target on Best Buy to $26 from $16 on optimism that the company's new management is in the early stages of a multi-year turnaround that could drive improvement to its operating margin, earnings per share, and return on invested capital.
"It's basically just taking an important but a fairly inefficient organization that's underperformed the last couple of years and really driving better efficiencies up and down the company, and we think that's going to play out for several years," Keith said.
This new management team is now better leveraging the company's dominant market share and trying to get closer to suppliers, he added. Ultimately, this is going to drive better terms, including possibly better prices, margins, or payables, he forecast.
For at least the next couple of years, Best Buy could generate free cash flow yield of at least $1 billion on an annual basis, he said. In 2012, the company generated $965 million in free cash flow.
—By CNBC.com's Katie Little; Follow on Twitter @Katie_Little
Piper Jaffray makes a market in Best Buy securities.