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Best Buy revenue, earnings slip in 4th quarter

During the three-month span that included the prime holiday sales period, the consumer electronics retailer took its biggest hit in entertainment hardware and software.

Best Buy saw its revenue and profits slide, again, in its fiscal fourth quarter.

During the three-month period ended February 26, Best Buy generated a profit of $651 million on revenue of $16.26 billion. During the same period in 2010, it tallied $16.55 billion in revenue and a $779 million profit. Comparable store sales were down 4.6 percent year over year. In 2010, they were up 7 percent over 2009 figures.

On an annual basis, Best Buy didn't perform so poorly. The company reported today that its fiscal-year revenue was $50.27 billion, up from the $49.69 billion it generated in the prior year. However, its profits slid a bit from $1.32 billion last year to $1.28 billion in its 2011 fiscal year. Its comparable store sales were down 1.8 percent during the year.

In December, Best Buy reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that also included year-over-year revenue and profit declines. Its comparable store sales were down 3.3 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in its prior fiscal year. At that time, the company cited weak sales in televisions, entertainment software, and computers as the main culprits.

This time around, it's a similar story for Best Buy. During the fourth quarter in the U.S., the retail heavyweight witnessed a 6.5 percent decline in year-over-year sales of consumer electronics and a 2.5 percent loss in home office revenue. But the big killer on the quarter, which included the prime holiday sales period, was entertainment hardware and software, which was down 14.3 percent year over year.

Best Buy said in a statement accompanying its earnings that the declines in those segments can be attributed to slow television sales and its inability to sell as many notebook computers as it did last year. On the television front, Best Buy said that "consumer demand in new television technologies had not yet emerged as a significant revenue driver."

But it wasn't all bad news for the big-box retailer. During the fourth quarter, it saw "a low double-digit comparable store sales increase in mobile phones, driven primarily by an increase in smartphone sales." Appliance sales were also up on the quarter.

Looking ahead, Best Buy foresees a similar mixed bag of performance. The company said that it expects to see its revenue climb from $51 billion to $52.5 billion in its 2012 fiscal year, but it believes comparable store sales will be down as much as 3 percent.