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WMT vs. TGT Stock: Which Retailer Can Recover First?

Both retailers need to overcome recent struggles

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Three Things to Like About TGT Stock

Canada: My home country is in the midst of a huge transformation. It’s not just Target and Walmart that are altering the retail landscape but businesses from all over the globe. Nordstrom (JWN), Saks and many others are making a bid for the disposable income of Canadians from coast to coast. Even domestic retailers like Toronto’s Loblaw Companies (LBLCF) is getting into the act, buying Shopper’s Drug Mart (SHDMF), Canada’s largest drug store chain. On several occasions in the past two years, I’ve gone to bat defending Target’s Canadian expansion. Despite the many concerns, my tune’s not changing — TGT stock will take flight once it works out the bugs in its Canadian operation.

Data Breach: Up to 110 million Target customers were affected by the security breach, which affected mostly email addresses. The Wall Street Journal reports that chief marketing officer Jeffrey Jones was concerned that revealing such a large number would seriously affect TGT stock, despite the fact less than 40% of the breach was truly serious in nature. But CEO Gregg Steinhafel overruled, stating, “Target won’t be defined by the breach, but how we handle the breach.” In the end, it might cost Target a billion dollars or more but this was a character revealing moment. TGT stock will take a hit in the short-term but it’s handled this problem with grace and humility … unlike Walmart, which tried to sweep its Mexican bribery scandal under the carpet.

Put and Call Options: While Target’s Q4 earnings (expected February 26 before the markets open) will see the worst quarterly decline since 2006, the options market seems to like the long-term future of TGT stock. On Feb. 5 a put option betting on a 10% decline cost only 2.79 points more than a call option betting on a 10% gain. The higher the skew, the more bearish a view taken by option traders. More fuel for the fire — on Feb. 7 the put-call ratio hit its lowest level in 18 months.  According to Bloomberg, option traders haven’t been this bullish about TGT stock since July 2006. While this isn’t enough to get TGT stock heading in the right direction, it’s a sign its earnings problems and data breach to a certain extent are already priced into its stock.

WMT vs. TGT: Who Wins This Horse Race?

Of the two companies WMT stock has much lower volatility over the near-term. However, I believe, perhaps naively, that TGT stock will get through this data breach becoming a better company as a result.

Data breaches are a fact of life in a technology-driven society. Target will learn from this mistake as TJX (TJX) did in 2007, mitigating the damage for TGT stock. As for Canada, the company has invested too much already to turn back now. Time will solve its problems north of the border.

Call me crazy, but if the horse race between TGT stock and WMT stock is for the next  3 to 5 years, Target wins.

As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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