Target’s Results Could Have Been Worse — and That’s Where They’re Headed

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Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) reported second-quarter 2014 results before markets opened Wednesday. The big-box retailer posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.78 and $17.41 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, it reported EPS of $0.98 on revenue of $17.12 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.79 and $17.38 billion in revenue.

On a GAAP basis, Target’s diluted EPS for the quarter totaled $0.37, which excludes costs related to the data breach the company experienced last November, among other things.

Target issued a warning earlier this month about second-quarter results, but it did not say anything then about the second half of the year. The company Wednesday did say something, and none of it was good. For the third quarter, Target guided adjusted EPS at $0.40 to $0.50, well below the current consensus estimate of $0.65. For the full year, the company expects to post adjusted EPS of $3.10 to $3.30, another sharp drop from the previous guidance of $3.60 to $3.90, and well short of the consensus estimate of $3.49.

Target’s former acting CEO and its CFO said:

While results from the quarter didn’t meet our expectations, we are seeing some early signs of progress as we work to improve results in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., traffic trends continue to recover and monthly sales are improving, with July comparable sales up more than 1 percent. Better U.S. sales have continued into August, driven by early back-to-school results. In Canada, the team is making important changes to operations and the merchandise assortment with a focus on delivering improved results by this holiday season.

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The company’s new CEO said:

In the coming weeks and months I will be focused on listening and learning from Target team members in the U.S. and Canada, and working with the leadership team to develop guest-focused, strategic plans to position Target for long-run success.

That does not sound like the new CEO has hit the ground running. Perhaps he doesn’t get the urgency of the situation at Target.

Same-store sales in the United States fell by 0.3% sequentially in the second quarter and were flat with year-ago sales. The number of transactions was also down by 1.3%, though the average transaction amount rose by 1.3%. In the second quarter a year ago, transactions were down 1.4% and the average transaction amount was up 2.7%.

Shares were hammered in the premarket, trading down about 1.3% to $58.35, in a 52-week range of $54.66 to $67.25. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $59.70 before these results were announced.

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