USA-ECONOMY

Target Hikes 1Q View After March Sales Top Forecasts

By Retail FOXBusiness

Target (TGT) revealed a 7.3% jump in March same-store sales on Thursday, leading the discount retailer to upgrade its quarterly earnings guidance above Wall Street’s expectations.

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Joining a string of mostly upbeat monthly sales reports from various retailers, Target said its net sales soared 7.9% to $6.43 billion last month.

Same-store sales, a closely watched metric by analysts and shareholders, increased 7.3%, compared with expectations for a more modest rise of just 5.4%.

“March sales were well above our expectations, reflecting a healthy underlying trend combined with the benefit of an earlier Easter and favorable weather this year," CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.

Minneapolis-based Target also credited higher average transaction size as well as an increase in same-store transactions.

Buoyed by the March results, Target said it now expects first-quarter EPS of 96 cents to $1.02. On a non-GAAP basis, the company sees EPS of $1.04 to $1.10. Even the low end of that new range would exceed the Street’s view of 97 cents.

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Target said it anticipates same-store sales to increase in the low to mid-single digits range.

Shares of Target gained just 0.5% to $58.11 ahead of Thursday’s open, compared with a modest decline on the S&P 500.

A number of other retailers unveiled stronger-than-expected March sales figures, including  Macy’s (M) and Gap (GPS).

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