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Best Buy Profit Up 18%, Aided By Sales Of High-Priced Items

Best Buyfourth-quarter earnings rose 18.5% as it benefited from a combination of strong television sales, installation services, and a quarter that was a week longer than last year.

The nation's biggest consumer electronics chain said on Wednesday that it earned $763 million, or $1.55 a share, during the quarter that ended March 3, up from $644 million, or $1.29 a share, in the three months ended Feb. 25, 2006.

Revenue rose 21% to $12.9 billion from $10.69 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of $1.52 a share on revenue of $12.67 billion.

Best Buy's comparable-store sales gain - a key retail barometer - was 5.9%, driven mostly by a strong increase at stores outside the U.S. Sales grew 4.8% at U.S. stores open at least 14 months, down from 7.4% growth during last year's fourth quarter.

Best Buy has already made moves into China, and on Wednesday it said it might begin tests in Mexico and Turkey.

Best Buy said it expects to earn $3.10 to $3.25 a share during the current fiscal year on revenue of about $39 billion, which would be an increase of 9%. Analysts were expecting earnings of $3.18 a share on revenue of $39.8 billion.

Apple Moving Into Best Buy Stores

Best Buy said during the company's earnings conference call that it plans to offer Apple computers in 200 stores this year.

"We'll be expanding our relationship with Apple in 2007," said Best Buy President Brian Dunn. "We'll be offering Apple computers in 200 stores by this fall."

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