Best Buy surges after Nintendo switch helps bring surprise growth

The Switch, which debuted March 3, has emerged as a bright spot in a lackluster retail industry

Best Buy got a boost from Super Mario in the first quarter, as demand for Nintendo’s new Switch game console helped the retailer post a surprise sales gain.

Comparable-store sales — a closely watched benchmark — rose 1.6 percent, the company said on Thursday. Analysts had predicted a decline. Best Buy’s earnings also topped analysts’ projections, sending the shares to a record high with their biggest rally in nine months.

The Switch, which debuted March 3, has emerged as a bright spot in a lackluster retail industry. Last week, Target said its electronics sales “leapt forward,” thanks to the Switch, which it promoted in stores and online. In April, the electronics category overall posted its first monthly gain in almost two years, according to government data cited by RBC Capital Markets.

Best Buy also saw robust gains in laptops — once a declining category — thanks to premium offerings above $500 from suppliers like Microsoft.

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“The year is off to a strong start,” Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly said in a call with reporters Thursday. “This is a performance that shows the strength in our customer-value proposition.”

Shares of Best Buy surged 21.5 percent to $61.25 Thursday, the biggest intraday increase since August. They had gained 18 percent this year through Wednesday’s close.

Analysts had projected that same-store sales would drop 1.5 percent in the first quarter, which ended on April 29. Excluding some items, earnings jumped 40 percent to 60 cents a share. Wall Street had estimated 40 cents.

The results backed up the company’s claims that 2017 would be the year it shifts into growth mode after a long stretch of cutting costs, selling off foreign divisions and improving operations.

E-commerce sales, which grew 23 percent…

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