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Best Buy Co Inc raised its annual sales forecast on Thursday, saying the latest round of stimulus checks had kept consumers buying home electronics, while acknowledging that a reopening economy threatens to slow growth later in the year.

Shares of the company, which have gained over 20 per cent this year, rose about 5 per cent in morning trading as it also reported better-than-expected first quarter results.

Best Buy was among the biggest retail winners during most of the health crisis last year as stuck-at-home Americans set up remote workspaces and invested in home appliances leading to a surge in sales of laptops, webcams, refrigerators and other electronics.

“We’re still going to see a population that likely is going to be living some hybrid life for the foreseeable future and I think the refresh cycles as a result are going to speed up as people look for that new and better way to work and school from home,” Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Corie Barry said in an analyst call.

However, Barry added it was difficult to gauge the impact on sales from a switch in consumer spending to activities such as eating out, travelling and social events in the later part of the year, and after the stimulus boost peters out.

The company forecast second-quarter comparable sales to rise 17 per cent and expects full-year comparable sales to rise 3 per cent to 6 per cent, compared to a previous forecast range of a fall of 2 per cent to a rise of 1 per cent.

It expects comparable sales to fall in the second half of its fiscal year.

Barry also said Best Buy’s inventory of electronics was largely unaffected by the global semiconductor microchip shortage, but the company was keeping an eye on the changing situation.

The company’s comparable sales rose 37.2 per cent in the first quarter ended May 1, beating analysts’ estimates of a 22.7 per cent increase.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $2.23 per share, topping estimates of $1.39 per share.

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