Target Posts Weak Results As Shoppers Pull Back

By Reuters
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Target Posts Weak Results As Shoppers Pull Back

US retailer Target has reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and its forecast for the current quarter was also largely below Wall Street expectations after shoppers cut back on non-essential spending and the retailer said it expects consumer caution to persist.

Earnings per share of $2.03 were 3 cents below analyst estimates, according to LSEG data. 

Its disappointing earnings and outlook stood in contrast to larger peer Walmart, which last week reported better-than-expected results and raised its annual outlook as shoppers prioritised food and essentials like toilet paper and detergent.

Companies ranging from McDonald's to PepsiCo have flagged weeks the strain that Americans are under due to sticky food inflation and the rising costs of eating out, rents and mortgages.

"We remain cautious in our near-term growth outlook and we expect consumer discretionary trends to remain pressured in the short term," Christina Hennington, Target's chief growth officer, said on a media call.


'Concerned' Shoppers

Shoppers remain 'concerned' due to higher interest rates, economic uncertainty and higher credit card balances, she added, noting that consumer confidence took a meaningful dip in April.

Shoppers are delaying their purchases until closer to holidays and seasonal events like Valentine's Day and Easter to take advantage of deals, while also spending more time on out-of-home activities, Target's CEO Brian Cornell said during a media call.

Despite ongoing inflation in food and essentials, spending in these categories remained resilient, which Cornell attributed to a strong labour market.

Comparable sales for the first quarter ended 4 May declined 3.7%, in line with expectations, marking the fourth straight decline. Strong beauty sales partially offset a slowdown in discretionary items such as home furnishings, furniture and appliances. Apparel sales improved from the prior quarter, Target said.


Average traffic and the amount spent at the till declined 1.9% in the quarter.


Target maintained its full-year target, with comparable sales seen flat to up 2%, and earnings of $8.60 to $9.60 per share.

For the second quarter, it expects comparable sales flat to up 2%, and adjusted earnings of $1.95 to $2.35 per share. Analysts on average had anticipated a comparable sales increase of 1.39% and a profit of $2.19 per share.

Recently, Target said it would lower prices on at least 5,000 products ranging from milk and paper towels to pet food and diapers. This followed its move in January, where it introduced 'dealworthy,' a new line of 400 products starting below $1 and most products under $10.

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