Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) today announced that comparable sales during the combined November/December period decreased 1.3 percent. For those two months, total sales decreased 4.9 percent, reflecting the impact of the December 2015 sale of the Company’s pharmacy and clinic businesses. As a result of this softer-than-expected sales performance, the Company updated its fourth quarter and full-year 2016 guidance.
"While we were pleased with Black Friday sales, December digital sales growth of more than 40 percent and continued strength in our Signature Categories, these results were offset by early season sales softness and disappointing traffic and sales trends in our stores," said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target.
November/December Performance Metrics:
Comparable sales in Target stores declined more than 3 percent, partially offset by digital sales growth of more than 30 percent.
Transactions were flat compared to last year, as digital transaction growth of more than 30 percent was offset by a 1.7 percent decline in comparable store transactions.
o Comparable sales in Signature Categories – including Toys – grew nearly 3 percentage points faster than the Company average.
o Comparable sales in Electronics and Entertainment declined in the high single digit range.
o Comparable sales in Food and Essentials both declined in the low single-digit range.
"While we significantly outpaced the industry's digital performance, the costs associated with the accelerated mix shift between our stores and digital channels and a highly promotional competitive environment had a negative impact on our fourth quarter margins and earnings per share,” Cornell continued. “Despite these challenges, we are positioned to deliver full-year Adjusted EPS1 of $5.00 or more in 2016, which would mark an all-time high for Target. And, importantly, our team has made substantial progress in positioning Target for long-term success by improving the shopping experience both in stores and on Target.com, transforming our supply chain and technology to support every way our guests want to shop, and developing new store formats that allow us to reach new guests in dense urban and suburban markets.”
Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2016 Guidance
Target now expects fourth quarter comparable sales in the range of (1.5) percent to (1.0) percent, compared with prior guidance of (1.0) percent to 1.0 percent. In fourth quarter 2016, Target expects both GAAP EPS from continuing operations and Adjusted EPS of $1.45 to $1.55, compared with prior guidance of $1.55 to $1.75.
For full-year 2016, Target now expects GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $4.57 to $4.67, compared with prior guidance of $4.67 to $4.87. The Company expects full-year 2016 Adjusted EPS of $5.00 to $5.10, compared with prior guidance of $5.10 to $5.30. The 43-cent difference between these ranges reflects $0.44 of early debt-retirement losses and a $0.01 benefit from the resolution of income tax matters.
Fourth quarter and full-year 2016 GAAP EPS from continuing operations may include the impact of unforeseen discrete items which may be excluded in calculating Adjusted EPS. The Company is not currently aware of any such discrete items beyond those already reported in the first, second and third quarters of 2016.
The Company plans to release its fourth quarter financial results on Feb. 28, 2017.
Statements in this release regarding fourth quarter and full-year 2016 earnings per share and comparable sales guidance are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially. The most important risks and uncertainties are described in Item 1A of the Company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Jan. 30, 2016. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement.
In addition to the guidance for GAAP EPS from continuing operations provided in this release, the Company provides Adjusted EPS guidance for the fourth quarter and full-year 2016. Adjusted EPS is not in accordance with, or an alternative for, generally accepted accounting principles in the United States. Management believes Adjusted EPS is useful in providing period-to-period comparisons of the results of the Company’s ongoing retail operations. The most comparable GAAP measure for Adjusted EPS is diluted EPS from continuing operations. Adjusted EPS should not be considered in isolation or as a substitution for analysis of the Company’s results as reported under GAAP. Other companies may calculate Adjusted EPS differently than the Company does, limiting the usefulness of the measure for comparisons with other companies.
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,803 stores and at Target.com. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit to communities, which today equals more than $4 million a week. For more information, visit Target.com/Pressroom. For a behind-the-scenes look at Target, visit Target.com/abullseyeview or follow @TargetNews on Twitter.