Target's Stock Plunges After Profit Miss, Downbeat Outlook

By Tomi KilgoreMarketsMarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Target Corp. tumbled 11% in premarket trade after the discount retailer missed profit expectations and provided a downbeat outlook. Earnings for the quarter to Jan. 28 fell to $817 million, or $1.56 a share, from $1.43 billion, or $2.32 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $1.45, below the FactSet consensus of $1.51. Revenue declined 4.3% to $20.69 billion from $21.63 billion, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $20.70 billion. Same-store sales fell 1.5%, compared with expectations of a 1.4% decline. Looking ahead, Target expects first-quarter adjusted EPS of 80 cents to $1.00, well below the FactSet consensus of $1.33. The company expects 2017 adjusted EPS of $3.80 to $4.20, below analyst projections of $5.32. "Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores," said Chief Executive Brian Cornell. He outlined a plan of investment aimed at positioning Target for sustainable growth, including the launch of 12 new brands, but said the transition to the new model will present headwinds to sales and profit in the short term. The stock, which was on track to open at the lowest level since October 2014, has plunged 14% over the past three months through Monday, while the S&P 500 has gained 7.6%.

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