Target’s Near-Term Struggles Won’t Knock it off Course

Over the long term, Target stock should keep moving higher

Big-box retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) and owners of their stock had a rough weekend June 15-16. Multiple software outages shut down TGT’s cash registers and credit card processors across the country for several hours, leaving in their wake long lines of upset customers.

Target Stock's Near-Term Struggles Won't Knock it off Course

Target stock has responded negatively to those outages. Since that weekend, TGT stock has fallen about 3%.

Target CEO Brian Cornell came on CNBC following that unfortunate weekend and said that the company was able to fix the issues relatively quickly. Cornell also said that he does not expect the outages to impact the company’s 2019 financial results.

In 2019 TGT stock expects its comparable sales to rise by low-to-mid-single-digit percentages. Target continues to anticipate that its operating profits will rise around 5% and its earnings per share to be between $5.75 to $6.05.

In other words, the mid-June outages at Target did not impact the longer-term growth outlook supporting TGT stock. Consequently, the near-term weakness of Target stock that was caused by these outages has created a buying opportunity.

TGT is still firing on all cylinders and succeeding tremendously in the omnichannel retail game. At the same time, the U.S. consumer remains healthy and confident, supported by a strong jobs market, low interest rates, and a stock market that’s closing in on all time highs.

As long as these conditions continue, Target stock will remain on a winning trajectory.

Target Stock Is Still on Fire

Although the mid-June outages created a near-term headache, TGT stock’s fundamentals remain favorable.

It has become increasingly obvious over the past few years that e-commerce is not the future of retail. E-commerce growth has slowed dramatically over the past several quarters, and e-commerce sales represent just about 10% of total retail sales. It shows consumers still have affinity for brick-and-mortar stores.

As a result, omnichannel is the future of retail, rather than e-commerce. The best shopping destinations in the future will have both online and offline shopping channels.

Physical retail giants like Target will greatly benefit from that trend. For companies with a nationwide physical-store base, it’s not incredibly difficult to launch a digital business.  It’s much harder to do the opposite, i.e. build physical stores to supplement an online business.

Consequently, over the past several years, physical retail giants like TGT have been able to punch back against the e-commerce wave and win back lost market share by leveraging their natural advantages in omnichannel retail.

The key for Target stock is its continued innovation in the omnichannel world. That includes improving options like in-store pickup, same-day delivery, and online inventory checking. Also important is adding more technology, like self-checkout kiosks, to stores.

TGT is doing those things. That’s why the company has rattled off quarter after quarter of robust comparable sales growth and huge digital-sales growth. As long as Target continues to innovate on the omnichannel front, its numbers should remain solid.

Good News for TGT: The U.S. Consumer Is as Healthy as Ever

At the same time that Target is innovating rapidly, American consumers have become as healthy as they’ve been at any point over the past decade.

The unemployment rate in America is at record low levels. Wage growth stands at decade-high levels, so for the first time since the financial crisis, Americans are getting a sizable raise. Interest rates are very low and may even go lower, which should boost consumer expenditures. Inflation remains muted. Household debt levels are low, and the personal savings rate is as high as its been since the 1990s.

Furthermore, trade war risks could be weakening as the U.S. and China are set to meet at the G-20 summit in Japan. If tariffs get taken off the table, then all of the aforementioned favorable consumer conditions should remain in play for the foreseeable future.

If those favorable consumer conditions do stick around, then U.S. consumers will continue to shop at a healthy pace. Because Target is doing everything right on the omnichannel retail front, this company should be able to do very well in a healthy U.S. consumer-spending environment.

The Bottom Line on TGT Stock

At this point in time, the outlook of Target stock is quite good. U.S. consumer health paired with Target’s favorable competitive position should continue to produce healthy sales and profit growth. TGT stock will likely remain on a winning trajectory.

As of this writing, Luke Lango was long TGT. 

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