Target sees solid year after weak holiday quarter
By Jessica Wohl
(Reuters) - Retailer Target Corp said it appears poised for a solid showing in the first quarter and forecast a higher profit for the year after a weak performance in the key holiday season.
Still, shares slid 3.6 percent to $61.77 in early Wednesday trading.
For the current year, Target forecast adjusted earnings of $4.85 to $5.05 per share, which would exceed the $4.76 it earned last year.
Target did not give a sales forecast, but Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said it faced a "highly promotional retail environment and continued consumer uncertainty."
It was not immediately clear how the company's results and forecasts compared to analysts' expectations.
Target rang up 1 percent fewer purchases in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier. But shoppers bought 0.7 percent more each time they shopped and the average spent was up 1.4 percent.
It was Target's weakest holiday season performance since 2008, and some strength in January helped prop up what could have been even weaker numbers, said Sandy Skrovan, U.S. research director at Planet Retail.
"Walmart proved the victor over Target for the 2012 holiday season," Skrovan said, pointing out that Walmart U.S. same-store sales rose 1 percent in the quarter. "But Target won the year overall since, unlike Walmart, its affluent shopper base tends to be more insulated from economic swings." Continued...