The new issue of Business Week has an article on just how profitable extended warranties on consumer electronics are to the likes of Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Pretty amazing numbers:
Last year, profits from warranties accounted for all of Circuit City’s operating income and almost half of Best Buy’s, say analysts. They figure that profit margins on contracts are between 50% and 60%. That’s nearly 18 times the margin on the goods themselves. For example, a four-year contract on a $3,000 flat-panel TV costs about $400. Best Buy gives its insurers $160 and keeps $240 for itself.