Target Corporation Reports First Quarter Earnings

MINNEAPOLIS - May 19, 2021

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  • First quarter comparable sales grew 22.9 percent, on top of 10.8 percent growth last year.
    • Store comparable sales increased 18.0 percent, on top of 0.9 percent growth last year. Digital comparable sales grew 50 percent, on top of 141 percent growth a year ago.
    • Same-day services (Order Pickup, Drive Up and Shipt) grew more than 90 percent, led by growth in Drive Up of 123 percent.
    • More than 95 percent of Target’s first quarter sales were fulfilled by its stores.
  • The Company gained more than $1 billion in market share in the first quarter, on top of a $1 billion share gain in first quarter 2020.
  • First quarter GAAP EPS of $4.17 was 643.2 percent higher than last year. First quarter Adjusted EPS1 of $3.69 was 525.0 percent higher than last year.

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Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) today announced its first quarter 2021 financial results, which reflected robust growth in both sales and profitability. The Company reported first quarter GAAP earnings per share (EPS) of $4.17, up 643.2 percent from $0.56 in 2020. First quarter Adjusted EPS of $3.69, which excluded a $0.53 gain on the sale of Dermstore, grew 525.0 percent compared with $0.59 in 2020. The attached tables provide a reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted EPS.

“Our performance in the first quarter was outstanding on every measure, and showcased the power of putting our stores at the center of our strategy. Store comp sales grew 18.0 percent in the quarter, even as they also fulfilled more than three quarters of Target’s digital sales - including more than 90-percent growth of our same-day services. Importantly, market-share gains of more than $1 billion in the first quarter, on top of $1 billion in share gains a year ago, demonstrate Target’s continued relevance with our guests, even as they have many more shopping options compared with a year ago,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target Corporation. 

“Given the trust we’ve built with our guests quarter after quarter and our commitment to adjusting along with them to the ongoing shifts in the macro environment, we're confident in continued comp growth in the second quarter and through the remainder of the year, as well as a healthy full-year operating margin rate.”

Fiscal 2021 Guidance

For the second quarter of 2021, the Company expects mid-to-high single digit growth in comparable sales. The Company expects its second-quarter operating margin rate will be well above the second quarter 2019 rate of 7.2 percent, but likely not as high as last year’s unprecedented 10.0 percent.

The Company expects positive single-digit comparable sales growth in the last two quarters of the year, and expects its full-year operating margin rate will be well above the 2020 rate of 7.0 percent, with the potential to reach 8 percent or somewhat higher.

Operating Results

Comparable sales grew 22.9 percent in the first quarter, reflecting comparable store sales growth of 18.0 percent and comparable digital sales growth of 50 percent. Total revenue of $24.2 billion grew 23.4 percent compared with last year, driven by total sales growth of 23.3 percent and a 30.4 percent increase in other revenue. Operating income was $2.4 billion in first quarter 2021, up 407 percent from $0.5 billion in 2020.

First quarter operating income margin rate was 9.8 percent in 2021 compared with 2.4 percent in 2020. First quarter gross margin rate was 30.0 percent, compared with 25.1 percent in 2020. This year's gross margin rate reflected the benefit of favorable category mix and merchandising actions, primarily from low markdown rates, while last year's gross margin rate reflected elevated inventory costs and impairment charges. First quarter SG&A expense rate was 18.6 percent in 2021, compared with 20.7 percent in 2020, reflecting the benefit of leverage from strong sales growth, partially offset by the net impact of other factors, primarily investments in team member pay, benefits, and safety.

Interest Expense and Taxes

The Company’s first quarter 2021 net interest expense was $108 million, compared with $117 million last year. The decrease was primarily due to a lower weighted-average interest rate on the Company's debt portfolio.

First quarter 2021 effective income tax rate was 19.6 percent, compared with 13.9 percent last year. The rate increase was driven by significantly higher earnings, diluting the benefit of fixed and discrete tax items.

Capital Deployment and Return on Invested Capital

The Company paid dividends of $340 million in the first quarter, compared with $332 million last year, reflecting a 3.0 percent increase in the dividend per share, partially offset by a decline in average share count.

The Company resumed share repurchases in first quarter 2021, consistent with its long-standing capital deployment policies and within the limits of its strong, middle-A credit ratings.  Share repurchases of $1.2 billion retired 6.1 million shares of common stock at an average price of $190.77.

As of the end of the first quarter, the Company had approximately $3.4 billion of remaining capacity under the repurchase program approved by Target’s Board of Directors in September 2019.

For the trailing twelve months through first quarter 2021, after-tax return on invested capital (ROIC) was 30.7 percent, compared with 13.4 percent for the trailing twelve months through first quarter 2020. The increase in ROIC was driven primarily by increased profitability. The tables in this release provide additional information about the Company’s ROIC calculation.

Webcast Details

Target will webcast its first quarter earnings conference call at 7:00 a.m. CT today. Investors and the media are invited to listen to the meeting at (click on link under "Upcoming Events"). A replay of the webcast will be provided when available. The replay number is 1-800-876-9512.


Statements in this release regarding second quarter and full year comparable sales growth and operating margin rates 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 actions 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 January 30, 2021. 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.

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at more than 1,900 stores and at Since 1946, Target has given 5% of its profit to communities, which today equals millions of dollars a week. For the latest store count or for more information, visit For a behind-the-scenes look at Target, visit or follow @TargetNews on Twitter.

For more on the Target Foundation, click here.

1Adjusted EPS, a non-GAAP financial measure, excludes the impact of certain discretely managed items. See the tables of this release for additional information about the items that have been excluded from Adjusted EPS.

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