Consumers may not be shopping at the mall this holiday season, particularly for apparel, but they are shopping at off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx and home decor stores like HomeGoods.
TJX, the parent company to those two brands as well as Marshall's, is positioned well. It is Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen's top defensive stock pick for the holidays."At TJX, we believe stronger holiday marketing efforts, consistent store traffic and sales growth, and increasing penetration into younger demographics following a shifting trend to mix and match fashion offer significant upside to [fourth quarter] comp guidance of 2-3%," Chen wrote in an Oct. 24 research note. Chen upped his 12-month price target by $5 to $68 on TJX based on the company's increased holiday marketing on social media and television along with the brand's "value message" gaining traction with both younger customers while staying relevant with its core base, he wrote. Additionally the company's "superior merchant team and inventory management" that drives "newness, flexibility and margins" as well as the minimal inclusion of comp sales and e-commerce in the company's top-line guidance offers incremental upside, he said. Shares of TJX are up 46% this year. The stock closed down 0.08% on Monday at $61.67. Last month, TJX boosted third-quarter and full-year guidance fueled by strong sales and profit margins. The retailer also raised comparable-store sales growth to approximately 4% in the quarter, up from the 2% to 3% growth it forecast in August. TJX reported comparable sales of 7% in the third quarter of 2012.
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