NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The other day I asked a savvy friend what stocks he's interested in owning. Without hesitation he said, "I have a short list, and Target (TGT - Get Report) is at the top of that list."
He already owns many of the best-in-breed companies, and he's married to a financial analyst, so he's not someone who just fell off the turnip truck on the way to the market. "Target knows how to compete in a cost-effective way," he enthusiastically reminded me.
"They're carefully expanding into areas of the country like Santa Barbara, Calif., where there's plenty of demand and their kind of demographic base," he added. "They know what they're doing and how to execute on their business model".
That's when I decided to look carefully at Target's key financial statistics and plans to reward shareholders.First, I had no idea how long TGT has been around. Target was founded in 1902 and is headquartered in Minneapolis. It offers full-time employment to over 365,000 people. As of Wednesday, the company operated 1,781 stores in the United States. It also has an online presence through its Web site, Target.com. The company distributes its merchandise through a network of distribution centers, as well as third parties and direct shipping from vendors. Additionally, it offers credit to guests through its branded proprietary credit cards, the Target Visa Credit Card and the Target Credit Card, as well as through its branded proprietary Target Debit Card. You should take a look at its easy to navigate Web site and begin at the investor relations page. There you'll find monthly sales summaries, dividend and stock split history, and important news, like the fact that Target is opening its first Canadian stores in 2013. The CEO message box is a must-read. CEO Gregg Steinhafel shares Target's philosophy on the connection between strong communities and a healthy business.
"When Target opened in 1962, we believed we could build a sustainable business that strengthened communities for the long term by continually anticipating the consumer needs of the moment. And today, 50 years later, our commitment to that ideal is as strong as it was on opening day", the CEO message reports.The importance of this approach is paying off in the profitability of both the company and the stock price. Target's trailing-twelve-month (TTM) operating cash flow is a healthy $5.57 billion on annual revenue (TTM) of $71.34 billion. The 2.3% dividend is sustainable as it comes from a relatively low payout ratio of 28% of the company's earnings.
"Central to our management philosophy was the belief that our business could benefit communities, and that strong, healthy communities would be essential to lasting business success."