National Post (Latest Edition) - - FI­NAN­CIAL POST -

Tar­get Corp. posted hol­i­day sales growth that topped an­a­lysts’ es­ti­mates, boosted by a surge in on­line or­ders, though the re­tailer’s heavy re­liance on discounts took a toll on profit dur­ing the sea­son. Same- store sales gained 1.9 per cent in the fourth quar­ter, the Min­neapo­lis-based com­pany said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. An­a­lysts had pre­dicted 1.5 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Con­sen­sus Metrix. But Tar­get’s gross profit mar­gin slipped to 27.9 per cent from 28.5 per cent a year ear­lier, a de­cline the re­tailer at­trib­uted to “in­vest- ments in pro­mo­tions.” Tar­get got more ag­gres­sive with hol­i­day discounts this past sea­son, aim­ing to take mar­ket share from Wal- Mart Stores Inc. and other ri­vals. It cut prices on cat­e­gories like toys and of­fered free ship­ping to on­line cus­tomers. Ex­clud­ing some items, earn­ings per share were $ 1.52 in the pe­riod, which ended Jan. 30. An­a­lysts had es­ti­mated $ 1.54 a share on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. Tar­get shares closed up four per cent at US$76.95 on Wed­nes­day.

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