Comparable sales and EPS near the high end of expectations
- Third quarter comparable traffic grew 1.4 percent. Comparable sales increased 0.9 percent.
- Third quarter GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $0.87 and Adjusted EPS1 of $0.91 were near the upper-end of the guidance range of $0.75 to $0.95.
- Comparable digital channel sales increased 24 percent, on top of 26 percent growth in third quarter 2016.
- In the third quarter, Target devoted $847 million to capital investment, paid dividends of $339 million, and returned $171 million through share repurchases.
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Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) today reported a third quarter 2017 comparable sales increase of 0.9 percent and GAAP earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations of $0.87, a decrease of 17.7 percent from third quarter 2016. Third quarter adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations (Adjusted EPS) were $0.91, a decrease of 13.1 percent from third quarter 2016. The attached tables provide a reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted EPS.
“We’re very pleased with Target’s third quarter performance, including traffic and sales growth that demonstrate we’re building on the progress we saw in the first half of the year,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target Corporation. “The investments we’re making in our business will help Target drive long-term success and ensure we’re well positioned to deliver for guests in the all-important holiday season. Our assortment now includes thousands of new items from the eight exclusive brands we’ve launched throughout 2017, including Hearth and Hand with Magnolia, our new home goods partnership with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Guests this holiday season will experience elevated in-store service reflecting our investments in wages, training and additional hours for our team, and they’ll find more value than ever before through a combination of being priced right daily and offering impressive deals. While we expect the fourth-quarter environment to be highly competitive, we are very confident in our holiday season plans.”
Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2017 Guidance
Target expects fourth quarter 2017 comparable sales growth of flat to two percent. That performance would translate into full-year 2017 comparable sales growth of flat to one percent.For fourth quarter 2017, the Company expects GAAP EPS from continuing operations and Adjusted EPS of $1.05 to $1.25. For full-year 2017, the Company now expects GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $4.38 to $4.58 and Adjusted EPS of $4.40 to $4.60, compared with prior guidance of $4.35 to $4.55 for GAAP EPS from continuing operations and $4.34 to $4.54 for Adjusted EPS. The 2 cent difference between expected full-year GAAP EPS from continuing operations and Adjusted EPS is driven by the expected net impact of debt-retirement costs and tax benefits.
Fourth quarter and full-year 2017 GAAP EPS from continuing operations may include the impact of additional discrete items which will be excluded in calculating Adjusted EPS. The Company is not currently aware of any such discrete items.
The Company announced today that it plans to issue a post-holiday financial update on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.
Third quarter 2017 sales increased 1.4 percent to $16.7 billion from $16.4 billion last year, reflecting a 0.9 percent comparable sales increase combined with the benefit from sales in non-mature stores. Comparable digital channel sales grew 24 percent and contributed 0.8 percentage points to comparable sales growth. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT), which is Target’s measure of segment profit, were $869 million in third quarter 2017, a decrease of 17.8 percent from $1,057 million in third quarter 2016.
Third quarter EBIT margin rate was 5.2 percent, compared with 6.4 percent in 2016. Third quarter gross margin rate2 was 29.7 percent, compared with 29.8 percent in 2016, reflecting pressure from digital fulfillment costs and the Company’s pricing and promotion efforts, partially offset by cost savings. Third quarter SG&A expense rate was 21.1 percent in 2017, compared with 20.3 percent in 2016, driven by higher compensation costs, reflecting a year-over-year increase in team member incentives combined with the impact of investments in store team member hours and wage rates. This was partially offset by the benefit from the timing of some expenses and our ongoing cost-savings efforts.
Interest Expense and Taxes from Continuing Operations
The Company’s third quarter 2017 net interest expense was $254 million, compared with $142 million last year. The increase was driven by a $123 million charge related to the early retirement of debt in third quarter 2017, partially offset by the benefit of lower average debt balances.
Third quarter 2017 effective income tax rate from continuing operations was 22.3 percent compared with 33.8 percent last year. The decrease was primarily due to the net tax effect of the Company’s global sourcing operations, the resolution of other income tax matters and the effect of lower pretax earnings.
Capital Returned to Shareholders
In third quarter 2017, the Company returned $510 million to shareholders, which consisted of:
- Dividends of $339 million, compared with $345 million in third quarter 2016.
- Share repurchases totaling $171 million, including an accelerated share repurchase (ASR) agreement that retired 2.8 million shares of common stock at an average price of $57.78, for a total investment of $161 million. Final settlement of the ASR occurred in November, and 0.3 million of the 2.8 million shares repurchased through the ASR were delivered in November.
As of the end of third quarter 2017, including the $161 million repurchased under the ASR, the Company had approximately $4 billion of remaining capacity under its current $5 billion share repurchase program.
For the trailing twelve months through third quarter 2017, after-tax return on invested capital (ROIC) was 13.7 percent, compared with 16.3 percent for the twelve months through third quarter 2016. Excluding the net gain on the sale of the pharmacy and clinic businesses, ROIC for the trailing twelve months through third quarter 2016 was 14.3 percent. The year-over-year decline in third quarter 2017 primarily reflected the impact of lower profits, partially offset by the benefit of lower working capital. See the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section of this release for additional information about the Company’s ROIC calculation.
Conference Call Details
Target will webcast its third quarter earnings conference call at 7:00 a.m. CST today. Investors and the media are invited to listen to the call at investors.target.com (hover over “company” then click on “events & presentations” in the “investors” column). A telephone replay of the call will be available beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m. CST today through the end of business on November 17, 2017. The replay number is 866-393-0868.
Statements in this release regarding fourth quarter and full-year 2017 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. 28, 2017. 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 GAAP results provided in this release, the Company provides Adjusted EPS, consolidated earnings from continuing operations before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT), and earnings from continuing operations before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the three and nine-month periods ended October 28, 2017 and October 29, 2016, respectively. The Company also provides ROIC for the twelve-month periods ended October 28, 2017 and October 29, 2016, which is a ratio based on GAAP information, with the exception of adjustments made to capitalize operating leases. Operating leases are capitalized as part of the ROIC calculation to control for differences in capital structure between the Company and its competitors. Adjusted EPS, capitalized operating lease obligations and operating lease interest are not in accordance with, or an alternative for, generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (GAAP). Management believes Adjusted EPS is useful in providing period-to-period comparisons of the results of the Company’s ongoing retail operations. Management believes consolidated EBIT and EBITDA are useful in providing meaningful information about our operational efficiency compared to our competitors by excluding the impact of differences in tax jurisdictions and structures, debt levels and, for EBITDA, capital investment. Management believes ROIC is useful in assessing the effectiveness of its capital allocation over time. The most comparable GAAP measure for adjusted diluted EPS is diluted EPS from continuing operations. The most comparable GAAP measure for consolidated EBIT and EBITDA is net earnings from continuing operations. The most comparable GAAP measure for capitalized operating lease obligations and operating lease interest is total rent expense. These non-GAAP numbers 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, consolidated EBIT, EBITDA and ROIC 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 1,834 stores and at Target.com. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit to communities, which today equals millions of dollars 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.