Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) is scheduled to report its fiscal third-quarter financial results before the markets open on Thursday. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters call for $0.69 in earnings per share (EPS) on $4.41 billion in revenue. In the same period of the previous year, the retailer posted EPS of $0.70 and $4.37 billion in revenue.
Looking at the past couple of quarters, same-store sales have essentially remained flat, stifling Kohl’s growth. A huge factor was that the back to school sales fell flat, or really fizzled out in July and early August.
Earlier in the third quarter, Kohl’s announced that it will add 69,000 jobs for the holiday season. Most will be temporary. Among its competitors, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) will add 70,000 jobs this holiday season, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will add 60,000, which seems small given it size. Deeply troubled Toys ‘R’ Us will add 40,000. It is too early to see if together all major retailers will add the 600,000, which would signal a season in which sales are flat.
The strength of retail sales in the fourth quarter of each year is a benchmark for how well the U.S. consumer economy is doing. Over the past 10 years, the number of jobs added by retailers has been a partial proxy for the retail economy. And the consumer economy remains over half of gross domestic product (GDP).
A few analysts weighed in on Kohl’s ahead of its earnings:
- Jefferies has a Buy rating and a price target of $57.
- MKM has a Buy rating but lowered its price target to $56 from $69.
- Deutsche Bank reiterated a Hold rating and lowered its target to $55 from $61.
- Credit Suisse reiterated a Hold rating.
- Nomura reiterated a Buy rating with a $65 price target.
Some analysts argue that there is clearly a more challenged retail and consumer backdrop, and the path for same-store sales growth for 2015 and 2016 is less visible for Kohl’s. However, this earnings point could be a great time for the company to turnaround.
So far in 2015, Kohl’s has underperformed the market, with the stock down 23.6% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock is down 17%.
Shares of Kohl’s were trading down 6% to $42.88 late Wednesday morning, with a consensus analyst price target of $53.76 and a 52-week trading range of $42.32 to $79.60.