No matter how much we think we know what to expect, there are always surprises. As an investor, I know this means I have to look at all the information available, rather than assume I know what the data says.
That's what led me to find an investment opportunity in an unexpected place: retail.
This is a sector filled with bad news. According to CNBC, "Retail bankruptcies march toward [a] post-recession high." So far this year, we have seen nine major retailers file bankruptcy, including Limited Stores and the parent of Radio Shack, which already went bankrupt once before. Analysts believe other will follow.
Moody's Investors Service says that 19 retailers are distressed and may not survive the year. Their list includes 99 Cents Stores, Payless, Claire's, David's Bridal and, of course, Sears.
Some investors may want to avoid the entire sector, but there must be some winners hidden among all the struggling stores because retailing can't disappear completely. While looking over relative strength screens of the market, I was surprised to see one company doing well in one of the more beaten-down sectors. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) has been a market leader for the past six months, the only major electronics retailer with a gain in that time.
I've written about Best Buy before. I was impressed that management views their business as "a leading provider of technology products, services and solutions" This indicates the stores are there to sell more than "stuff." In particular, Best Buy wants to provide services for consumers needing help. In the past few months, I've turned to the staff at Best Buy to figure out whether I need smart home devices, to find the best internet router for my home and to help me pick out gifts.
Best Buy: The Anti-Amazon
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) doesn't provide this kind of advice very well. Personally, I don't want to read through articles on tech websites to find the best device, because I want answers to my questions in real time. I can walk into Best Buy, tell them what I want to know and immediately follow up with additional questions before buying on the spot.
My experience plays out dozens and even hundreds of times a day at approximately 1,600 stores in North America, resulting in nearly $40 billion in annual revenue.
With Amazon redefining the way many of us buy things, many retailers are struggling to stave off bankruptcy. To survive, they need to adapt, which means finding a way to beat Amazon. Best Buy is among the few who have found a way to do that, turning lookers into buyers with helpful staff, price matching and the ability to take merchandise home instead of waiting for delivery.
Best Buy sells all kinds of devices that connect to the internet and each other, including tablets and computers, televisions, mobile phones, large and small appliances, gaming systems, light bulbs, thermostats and related accessories. The company also offers tech support, repair and installation under the Geek Squad brand.
Best Buy will have a chance to demonstrate their business model works when new cell phones hit the stores this year.
New phones looks great, but features and pricing can be confusing. Best Buy offers the ability to compare multiple brands of a product under one roof. Consumers can go to Best Buy and compare the phone to offering from Apple, LG or other manufacturers. They can switch service providers or change plans through BBY, which can access accounts at AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and other major providers. Best Buy associates can see the same information a cell provider's customer service reps would see and provide comparisons on the spot. With different pricing plans proliferating, this can be an important service and could boost profits if a new iPhone is released this year, as expected.
This model is applicable to other consumer electronic products offered at the store. Consumers looking for a new laptop or tablet can compare Microsoft Surface Pros with Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other products at Best Buy.
Best Buy also offers consumers help after they make the buying decision. Many locations can dispatch members of the Geek Squad to install or repair items. Customers can also drop off items in need of repair at the store.
Winners in retail know service is important, but pricing is equally important. BBY will match Amazon's or other competitors' prices, allowing customers to see the products on display, find the best price online and still make the purchase in-store. This initiative is part of a program known as "Renew Blue," a transformation designed to grow the company again. Another part of this initiative is the specialized shops within the store showcasing Sony, Samsung, Apple and Fitbit products. These shops provide expert guidance to help consumers select products.
How To Trade BBY
Now here's what makes BBY an interesting candidate for traders -- particularly those who use the strategy I recommend in my premium newsletter -- Income Trader -- to safely generate income from options...
Analysts have been raising estimates for BBY, which only increases my confidence in this trade. When I wrote about BBY in December, I noted the company was expected to report earnings per share (EPS) of $3.50 for this fiscal year, which ends in January 2018. EPS of $3.72 were expected in 2019. Now, those estimates have increased by roughly 5% to $3.68 and $3.91. Analysts may increase estimates again after the company reports earnings for the most recent quarter on May 25.
All of this goes to say that I think BBY is an excellent investment in a sector with few opportunities. But rather than simply buy shares and hope for the best, I recently recommended a high-probability income trade that could generate a quick 4.5% before that earnings announcement.
If all goes according to plan, we'll not only earn quick income -- but we could theoretically repeat this trade again and again to earn even more. Even better, if my Income Trader readers and I are "wrong," we'll be able to own shares at a 9.5% discount to recent prices.
The point is you can find winning trades in the unlikeliest of places. That's true whether you find a gem of a company in the middle of a flailing sector (like retail) or with a strategy (like options) that you've never considered before. And whether you felt like you don't know enough about options (or have been too intimidated to try), I'm here to tell you it's easier than it seems. That's why I have a brand new report that just came out explaining everything you need to know. If you'd like to check it out, simply follow this link.