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Is Best Buy (BBY) a “Buy” Ahead of Earnings?

Wall Street will be rolling out the red carpet for Best Buy Co Inc (BBY, $34.47, down 82 cents per share) on Thursday morning as Best Buy confesses its latest earnings numbers.

Best Buy logo Best Buy stock BBY stockShares have made a nice recovery from a two-year low of $10.75 after racing to a high north of $43 late last year. Best Buy stock then fell off a cliff in January after it reported holiday revenue well below Wall Street’s expectations.

Best Buy shares fell from a previous-day closing price of $37.57 on Jan. 15 to a low of $25.78 the following session at the start of the year. Best Buy closed down nearly 30% at $26.83 following the disappointing news but has rallied 30% since.

Needless to say, this will be a big report for Best Buy, as Wall Street will want to see some momentum going into this year’s holiday season.

The suit-an-ties are expecting Best Buy to earn 24 cents per share on revenue of $9.08 billion. Best Buy has beat estimates the past four quarters by 13 cents per share twice, 23 cents per share and 6 cents per share, respectively.

In August, shares fell 7%, from $31.99 to $29.80, after announcing second-quarter earnings. In May, Best Buy jumped from $25.35 to $26.22 on first-quarter numbers. In late February, Best Buy shares zoomed from $25.82 to $28 following fourth-quarter numbers but finished the session lower by a quarter. Finally, this time last year, Best Buy stock went into earnings at $43.56 and dropped 11% to $38.78 following the announcement.

There have been several upgrades on Best Buy stock over the past month, with Barclays PLC (ADR) (BCS) naming Best Buy its top pick for the holiday season. Best Buy shares were at $32.60 when that call was made. Another upgrade came ahead of Halloween when Best Buy shares were at $33.62. Last week, UBS AG (UBS) raised its price target from $32 to $36 and reaffirmed its “buy” rating on Best Buy stock.

There were three more upgrades on Monday. Stifel Financial Corp. (SF) raised its price target from $35 to $42 and kept a “buy” rating on Best Buy stock. RBC Capital Markets, LLC raised its price target to $40 from $36 and recommends buying Best Buy stock. And, finally, Bank of America Corp (BAC) said Best Buy remains a top pick with a $40 price target.

A move to $40 would require a 13% – 15% move from current levels. Heading into earnings, the option pits are pricing in a possible 9% – 10% move.

The BBY November 35 calls and the BBY November 35 puts are trading for $3.00 together, which would create a straddle option trade.

The regular November options expire this Friday and makes playing any directional trade a lottery pick, as either the calls or puts could double if shares move 10% or more. However, the premiums in these options will deflate rapidly going into Friday’s close. Additionally, a 10% stock move might only be enough to break even.

With shares at $38, the BBY November 35 calls would be worth $3.00. If shares are at $32, the BBY November 35 puts would be worth $3.00. Anything in between $38 and $32 would have the calls or puts below $3.00, and a flat move in BBY stock would crush both sides of the trade.

The BBY December 40 calls and the BBY December 30 puts could be used to create a strangle option trade.

The December options would allow more time for the trade to play out and would provide protection with the possibility of a triple-digit payday if shares do make a double-digit move either way.

The aforementioned December strangle option trade would make a 100% return if Best Buy shares are above $42 or below $28 by the time Christmas rolls around.

The BBY December 40 calls would be worth $2.00 if shares are at $42, while the BBY December 30 puts would be worth at least $2.00 if Best Buy is below $28 within the next month. The premium for both aforementioned December options is currently going for around $1.00.

The price action could reach a 10% – 20% move in the stock, as the 25 analysts that are covering the stock have a huge range. I mentioned earlier that the average estimates have Best Buy earning 24 cents per share. However, the low estimate is at 13 cents per share, while the high forecast is at 30 cents per share.

This means that Thursday’s headlines could read as an 11 cents per share miss or a 6 cents per share beat and could put “Johnny on the spot.” Investors will either cheer the news or throw the baby out with the bathwater.

A 10% move from current levels would have shares pushing $38.50 or testing $31.50. A follow through move of 5% – 10% could last into Friday or next week depending on the news. If not, there would still be another two weeks before the December options expired.

A 20% move from current levels over the next month would have Best Buy shares testing $28 or pushing $42.

I like the December strangle setup a lot more than the November straddle trade, but there is a bevy of ways to trade Best Buy using near-term or longer-term options and with different option strategies.

I have been going back to Best Buy in recent weeks, as I like its layout and customer service. Best Buy lets you shop without hounding you, and the sales associates are knowledgeable about the products. Traffic seemed robust on the weekday nights I visited the Best Buy store.

I will be going back to Best Buy for my holiday shopping, but sales could surprise Wall Street. Above are possible straddle and strangle option trades for conservative traders but, although I’m bullish, there is always the risk that Best Buy will drop the ball.

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