Target (NYSE:TGT) said Thursday it grew its same-store sales just fractionally during the crucial month of December, sparking a 5% dive in the discount retailer’s shares.
Minneapolis-based Target, which is the largest retailer to still report monthly results, said its same-store sales rose 0.9% in December, widely missing Wall Street’s expectations for a jump of 4%. Strength in grocery sales was offset by weaker figures for electronics, toys and some home categories.
“Sales in some key gift-giving categories moved earlier into the holiday season, and lower margin items drove a higher portion of sales than expected,” CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.
“We’re confident that we will continue to generate profitable growth, even while consumer buying patterns exhibit volatility across categories and over time.”
Despite the miss, Target said it still sees its fourth-quarter sales increasing 2% to 4% and said analysts’ fourth-quarter EPS target of $1.40 is a “reasonable estimate.”
Looking ahead, Target said it expects January same-store sales to rise in the low-to-mid single-digit range.
Shareholders didn’t take the news well, sending Target’s stock lower Thursday. The company’s stock had already been down 2% this week after having rallied about 20% in 2010.
Target wasn’t alone in revealing weaker-than-expected December figures as Gap (NYSE:GPS), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) and BJ’s (NYSE:BJ) also missed estimates.