On Strong March Sales, Target Boosts Q1 Outlook
Target Corporation's sales surged in March, beating Wall Street expectations and prompting the company to boost its first-quarter earnings outlook.
The Minneapolis-based retailer said Thursday that same-store sales-sales at stores open for at least a year and a key industry barometer-rose 7.3 percent last month. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 5.4 percent jump.
Meanwhile, net retail sales for the five weeks that ended on April 2 totaled $6.4 billion, representing a 7.9 percent jump from the same period last year.
“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,” Target Chairman, President, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.
Based on the company's solid performance, Steinhafel said that Target now expects same-store sales to rise 5 percent to 6 percent for the first quarter, which ends later this month. In early March, the retailer said it expected a 4 percent jump in same-store sales for the period.
Target also now expects earnings per share to fall between $1.04 and $1.10 for the quarter, up from its previous guidance of 97 cents to $1.07 per share.
On news of the retailer's strong performance in March, shares of its stock were trading up about 1 percent at $58.38 mid-morning on Thursday.
Following a weaker-than-expected December, Target has had a strong start to 2012. In January, same-store sales jumped 4.8 percent, more than double the 2.1 percent increase predicted by analysts, and net retail sales rose 5.1 percent to $4.6 billion. Then in February, same-store sales rose 7 percent, more than the 5.2 percent increase expected by Wall Street analysts, and net retail sales increased 8 percent to $5.1 billion.
The retailer serves customers at 1,765 stores and on its website-and it will expand into Canada next year. It is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $68.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in January.