Target on Wednesday reported quarterly revenues that fell far below Wall Street’s expectations, as the retailer tackled expensive shipping costs, higher discounts and lower than expected sales of discretionary items from TVs to bicycles.
Shares fell around 22% in pre-market trading.
Here is what Target reported for the first quarter of the fiscal year ended April 30, compared to Refinitive Consensus estimates:
- Earnings per share: $ 2.1[ads1]9 adjusted vs. $ 3.07 expected
- Revenue: $ 25.17 billion against the expected $ 24.49 billion
The national retailer, known for its cheap, elegant brands of clothing, home furnishings and more, had a particularly long sales period. A year ago, shoppers had extra dollars in their pockets from stimulus checks and reflected a sense of optimism with their purchases when they received their first Covid-19 vaccines.
Sales increased compared to the same period last year. Compared sales, a key measure that tracks sales in stores that have been open for at least 13 months and online, grew by 3.3% in the first quarter. It is on top of a 23% increase in comparable sales in the quarter last year, and it is higher than Wall Street’s estimate of 0.8%, according to StreetAccount estimates. At Target’s stores and website, traffic increased by 3.9%.
Still, CEO Brian Cornell said the company missed the target as the gains were “accompanied by unusually high costs.”
“Although we saw healthy top-line growth in the quarter, we were less profitable than we expected to be or intend to be over time,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Among the challenges, Target said that profits were affected by inventories that came too early and too late, compensation and the number of employees that increased at distribution centers, and a mixture of goods sales that looked different than before.
Target’s results reflected Walmart’s quarterly results. Walmart reported on Tuesday that it also missed earnings, also citing higher inventories and a number of cost pressures. Walmart’s shares fell more than 11% on Tuesday, reaching a 52-week low.
Target reiterated its revenue forecast, which requires mid-digit growth this year and beyond. It did not provide an estimate of earnings per share.
Target’s net income for the quarter fell to $ 1.01 billion, or $ 2.16 per share, from $ 2.1 billion, or $ 4.17 per share, a year earlier. Excluding commodities, the trader earned $ 2.19 per share, 88 cents less than $ 3.07 as expected by analysts researched by Refinitiv.
Adjusted earnings per share fell sharply – down almost 41% from the same period last year.
Total revenue rose to $ 25.17 billion from $ 24.20 billion a year ago, above analysts’ expectations of $ 24.49 billion.
Goals vs. Walmart
While Target and Walmart both missed profit margins by large margins, they differed in descriptions of the American consumer.
Walmart’s CFO Brett Biggs told CNBC that the big box retailer has seen some budget-limited customers shop down to the delicatessen store brand and buy a pint of milk instead of a full one. Someone else, he said, is looking for new game consoles and patio sets.
Meanwhile, Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a media interview that the company sees a healthy consumer, but one who lives – and uses – differently while resuming some pre-pandemic habits.
For example, Cornell said toy sales were unique in the first quarter, growing by the high single digits as families resumed larger children’s birthday parties. Luggage sales increased by more than 50%, he said.
On the other hand, sales of goods such as TVs, kitchen appliances and bicycles fell as consumers shifted their expenses to experience-based purchases such as booking travel and buying gift cards for restaurants, he said.
However, Cornell warned that cost pressures “will persist in the short term,” emphasizing that some are outside the company’s control. One of these factors is the price of gas, which reached a national average of $ 4,523 per gallon on Tuesday, according to AAA.
Still, he said, it will continue to invest in the business, opening new stores and saying Target’s bright, long-term path remains the same.
With inflation almost four decades high, CFO Michael Fiddelke said in an interview with journalists that Target will focus on offering value, even if it means absorbing some costs. He said raising prices “continues to be the last lever we pull.”
“We have earned so much trust in recent years with investments we have made in price, and we are not in the process of replacing it in the current environment,” he said.
As of Tuesday’s end, Target’s shares are down around 7% so far this year. The stock closed at $ 215.28 on Tuesday, bringing the company’s market value to $ 99.82.