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Best Buy's shares jump on cost cuts, web sales

Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Best Buy's net income rose sharply in the second quarter, as the struggling electronics retailer slashed costs and worked to make its website more competitive.

The nation's biggest specialty electronics company beat Wall Street expectations, and its shares jumped $4.07, or 13.2 percent, to $34.80.

Best Buy Co. has been shuttering underperforming stores and revamping others to offset tough competition from discounters and online retailers. Under CEO Hubert Joly, the company has instituted a price-matching policy, opened more in-store areas for manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung and invested more to train employees.

Such measures are intended to prevent "showrooming," which is when people go to stores to browse products but then shop online for lower prices.

In a conference call with analysts, Joly noted the various measures Best Buy has taken to make its website more competitive, such as an improved search platform and more product reviews by customers. He said that product reviews are a "powerful tool" for helping attract customers.

"We expect to quadruple the number of reviews we have on our site by year-end," Joly said.

Looking forward, he said the site improvements will continue with measures such as better site navigation and the introduction of new product buying guides in time for the critical holiday season.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Joly also expressed the company's commitment to offering the lowest prices.

"Our goal is to be price competitive, it is table stakes," he said.

Notably, online sales rose 10.5 percent for the period. Meanwhile, revenue in stores open at least a year slipped 0.6 percent. But that slip is much better than the 3.3 percent decline last year at this time.