Target Reports Third Quarter 2017 Earnings

Comparable sales and EPS near the high end of expectations
Third quarter comparable traffic grew 1.4 percent. Comparable sales increased 0.9 percent.
Third quarter GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $0.87 and Adjusted EPS1 of $0.91 were near the upper-end of the guidance range of $0.75 to $0.95.
Comparable digital channel sales increased 24 percent, on top of 26 percent growth in third quarter 2016.
In the third quarter, Target devoted $847 million to capital investment, paid dividends of $339 million, and returned $171 million through share repurchases.

Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) today reported a third quarter 2017 comparable sales increase of 0.9 percent and GAAP earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations of $0.87, a decrease of 17.7 percent from third quarter 2016. Third quarter adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations (Adjusted EPS) were $0.91, a decrease of 13.1 percent from third quarter 2016. The attached tables provide a reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted EPS.

“We’re very pleased with Target’s third quarter performance, including traffic and sales growth that demonstrate we’re building on the progress we saw in the first half of the year,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target Corporation. “The investments we’re making in our business will help Target drive long-term success and ensure we’re well positioned to deliver for guests in the all-important holiday season. Our assortment now includes thousands of new items from the eight exclusive brands we’ve launched throughout 2017, including Hearth and Hand with Magnolia, our new home goods partnership with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Guests this holiday season will experience elevated in-store service reflecting our investments in wages, training and additional hours for our team, and they’ll find more value than ever before through a combination of being priced right daily and offering impressive deals. While we expect the fourth-quarter environment to be highly competitive, we are very confident in our holiday season plans.”

Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2017 Guidance
Target expects fourth quarter 2017 comparable sales growth of flat to two percent. That performance would translate into full-year 2017 comparable sales growth of flat to one percent.

For fourth quarter 2017, the Company expects GAAP EPS from continuing operations and Adjusted EPS of $1.05 to $1.25. For full-year 2017, the Company now expects GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $4.38 to $4.58 and Adjusted EPS of $4.40 to $4.60, compared with prior guidance of $4.35 to $4.55 for GAAP EPS from continuing operations and $4.34 to $4.54 for Adjusted EPS. The 2 cent difference between expected full-year GAAP EPS from continuing operations and Adjusted EPS is driven by the expected net impact of debt-retirement costs and tax benefits.

Fourth quarter and full-year 2017 GAAP EPS from continuing operations may include the impact of additional discrete items which will be excluded in calculating Adjusted EPS. The Company is not currently aware of any such discrete items.

The Company announced today that it plans to issue a post-holiday financial update on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

Segment Results
Third quarter 2017 sales increased 1.4 percent to $16.7 billion from $16.4 billion last year, reflecting a 0.9 percent comparable sales increase combined with the benefit from sales in non-mature stores. Comparable digital channel sales grew 24 percent and contributed 0.8 percentage points to comparable sales growth. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT), which is Target’s measure of segment profit, were $869 million in third quarter 2017, a decrease of 17.8 percent from $1,057 million in third quarter 2016.

Third quarter EBIT margin rate was 5.2 percent, compared with 6.4 percent in 2016. Third quarter gross margin rate2 was 29.7 percent, compared with 29.8 percent in 2016, reflecting pressure from digital fulfillment costs and the Company’s pricing and promotion efforts, partially offset by cost savings. Third quarter SG&A expense rate was 21.1 percent in 2017, compared with 20.3 percent in 2016, driven by higher compensation costs, reflecting a year-over-year increase in team member incentives combined with the impact of investments in store team member hours and wage rates. This was partially offset by the benefit from the timing of some expenses and our ongoing cost-savings efforts.
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