Target (TGT) cut its profit outlook for the second time in three weeks. The company will attack oaring inventories in discretionary categories such as home furnishings with price mark downs, cancelling orders from vendors, and “off-loading excess inventory. (To deep discount sellers, I’d assume.) Three weeks ago, on May 18, the retailer’s shares slumped more than 25% after reporting that net profit shrank 52% in the first quarter. In those quarterly results, Target said its inventory rose 43%, compared with a year earlier.
In its guidance for the second quarter on May 18 Target said operating margins for the second quarter would be in a range centered around 5.3%. In today’s inventory warning the company said that orating margin would fall to 2%.
Target’s stock, which fell as much as 7% today on the news, closed down 2.22% today. Shares of competitors Walmart (WMT) and Costco (COST) were down only 1.24% and 0.15%, respectively.
I think that’s because investors are buying into the view of Target and Wall Street retail analysts that Target’s inventory markdowns aren’t evidence of a coming recession. Instead, as the company argued, retailers are seeing a shift in buying from discretionary items such as home furnishings toward consumer staples as buyers buckle down to a slowing grouting economy with high in flatten.
Target said it expects to sell fewer products in its home categories, for example, but continues to see strong sales in high-frequency goods like groceries, household essentials and beauty products.
That makes Target’s news today negative for retailers like Wayfair (W) where sales are concentrating in those higher ticket discretionary categories and relatively neutral news from retailers like Walmart and Costco with their big grocery and fuel units. Wayfair closed the day down 3.66%.
Costco and Walmart are members of my Jubak Picks Portfolio. Shares of Costco are down 17% from my March 29 pick. Walmart is down 18% from my April 5 pick.