Target said earnings for the three months ending on February 2 came in at $1.53 each, up 11.7% from the same period last and one penny ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group sales, Target said, were essentially flat compared to last year at $22.977 billion and modestly ahead of analysts' estimates of $22.91 billion. Same-store sales growth was pegged at 5.3%, firmly ahead of market expectations of 5%, a figure the company sees rising at a low to mid-single-digit range over the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
Target is forecasting 2019 earnings in the region of $5.75 to $6.05 per share, bumping ahead of the consensus estimate of $5.61 per share.
"We're very pleased with our fourth quarter performance, which capped off an outstanding year for Target. Thanks to the dedication of Target's team, we delivered our strongest traffic and comparable sales growth in well over a decade, and our 2018 Adjusted EPS set a new all-time record for the Company," said CEO Brian Cornell.
"We have been driving an ambitious agenda to transform our Company, evolve with our guests and drive strong growth. On every count we've been successful, and as we enter 2019, we will continue to lead the industry by adapting, innovating and delivering more for our guests and shareholders," he added
Target shares were rising 4.8% on Tuesday to $76.12.
Target had said earlier this year that its holiday activity was the strongest since 2005, with same store sales for the two months ending in December rose 5.7%, well ahead of the 3.4% pace recorded over the same period last year.