NEW YORK — Best Buy shoppers spent less than expected this spring, contributing to a rocky first quarter for the chain, but executives said the weak results don't mean Americans have less of an appetite for electronics.
The company's profit edged up 1 percent but fell far short of what analysts were expecting.
Company executives pointed out Tuesday that the first quarter makes up just 10 percent of Best Buy's annual revenue and expressed confidence in Americans' demand for products such as phones and computers.
"While spending clearly rallied from low levels of 2009, our data paints a picture of a consumer coming out to spend, and spend well, during important events, but taking pauses in between," CEO Brian Dunn said in a call with analysts.
Strong areas for Best Buy included cell phones, driven by the launch of the Sprint HTC EVO 4G smart phone, plus notebook computers and appliances. Apple's iPad also stirred interest in tablet computers, with more of the devices debuting later this year.
Sales of video game products, music and movies were weaker. Best Buy actually sold more TVs, but at lower prices. The average TV was about $150 cheaper in April than a year earlier, according to the NPD Group. Prices are coming down more slowly than before as the market for flat-screen sets matures.
Best Buy Co. said its net income rose to $155 million, or 36 cents a share, during the three months ended May 29, from $153 million, also roughly 36 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose almost 7 percent, to $10.79 billion from $10.1 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 50 cents a share on higher revenue of $10.93 billion.
Best Buy also spent 12 percent more money itself, exacerbating the profit shortfall. The company added locations, including standalone mobile stores, renovated the home-theater and computer sections of its stores and spent more on technology and employees.