Getty

Kohl's Corporation (KSS - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Tuesday, and boosted its full year outlook, but shares in the group were indicated sharply lower in pre-market trading as retail sector stocks fell amid disappointing holiday-season forecasts.

Kohl's said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on November 3, the company's fiscal third quarter, came in at 98 cents a share, just ahead of the 96 cents a share consensus and up 37% from the same period last year. Group sales, Kohl's said, rose 1.3% to $4.63 billion, topping analysts forecasts, while same-store sales rose 2.5%, again beating the Street. Kohl's also boosted the lower end of its full year earnings guidance to a range of $5.16 to $5.36 per share.

"We are very pleased that our strong performance continued into the third quarter, resulting in a comparable salesincrease of 2.5%, our fifth consecutive quarter of positive growth," said CEO Michelle Gass."We experienced strength across our entire apparel business, and our focus on speed to market and inventorymanagement are driving relevancy with our customers, resulting in sales growth, margin expansion, and cleaninventory levels.

"We are executing extremely well in our stores and our digital channels, and our efforts across thecompany have us well-positioned going into the fourth quarter," she added. "I want to thank our teams for another strong quarterand for the energy and enthusiasm they are bringing to the holiday season ahead of us."

Kohl's shares were marked 12.25% lower at the opening bell Tuesday and changing hands at $63.02 each, a move would still leave the stock with a 20% year-to-date gain and values the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based group at just under $11 billion.

Target Corp. (TGT - Get Report) shares were indicated sharply lower in pre-market trading Tuesday after it posted weaker-than-expected third quarter earnings but narrowly missed estimates for same-store sales amid a mixed set of numbers for the country's biggest retailers.

Earlier Tuesday, Target said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on November 3, its fiscal third quarter, came in at $1.09 per share, missing the Street consensus of $1.12 and rising 20.2% from the same period last year. Group sales, Target said, jumped 5.4% to $17.59 billion, matching analysts' forecasts, but noted that same store sales grew 5.1% compared to a 5.2% forecast. Target also said its third quarter gross margin, a key metric for profitability, fell 90 basis points to 28.7%, thanks in part to higher supply-chain costs as part of its drive towards digital sales and rising wage and training costs.

Lowe's Companies Inc. (LOW - Get Report)  also posted weaker-than-expected same stores sales growth for its fiscal third quarter, and said it would sell some of its non-core businesses and its operations in Mexico, as the number-two home improvement retailer attempts to challenge Home Depot's (HD - Get Report) domestic dominance.

Lowe's said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on November 2 came in at $1.04 per share, firmly ahead of the 98 cent consensus estimate and down just under 1% from the same period last year. Group revenues, Lowe's said, rose 3.85% to $17.415 billion, a figure that fell largely in-line with Street forecasts, but noted that same store sales rose only 1.5%, well shy of the nearly 3% gain analysts had anticipated.

Lowe's said it would look to exit its operations in Mexico, as well as other "non-core" businesses such as Alacrity Renovation Services and Iris Smart Home, and said it sees full-year earnings on a non-GAAP basis of between $5.08 and $5.13 per share amid an overall revenue decline of around 4% compared to 2017.