Target Beats Q1 Earnings Forecast On Digital Sales Surge; Coronavirus Costs Hit $500 Million

Target said online sales over the month of April nearly tripled from last year as consumers stocked-up on food and staples during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Target Corp.  (TGT) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings Wednesday as digital sales surged from last year, pushing revenues higher and offsetting a $500 million increase in coronavirus costs.  

Target said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in April were pegged at 59 cents per share, down 61.4% from the same period last year but well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $38 cents per share. Group revenues, Target said, rose 11.3% to $19.62 billion. topping analysts' forecasts, as online sales surged by a staggering 141% and comparable-store sales rose 10.8%.

Target said it would not update its full-year guidance, which was pulled on March 25, and noted that 'continued uncertainty' would prevent it from providing a current-quarter outlook.

"Throughout the first quarter, our team and guests faced unprecedented challenges arising from the spread of COVID-19. In the face of those challenges, our team showed extraordinary resilience as guests relied on Target as a trusted resource for their families," said CEO Brian Cornell. "With our stores at the center of our strategy and a significant investment in the safety of our team and guests, our operations had the agility and flexibility needed to meet the changing needs of our business."

"With the dedication of our team, the benefit of a sustainable business model and a strong balance sheet, we are confident Target will emerge from this crisis an even stronger retailer, with higher affinity and trust from our guests," he added.  

Target shares were marked 0.5% lower in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $123.10 each, a move that would leave the stock with a year-to-date decline of around 4%.

Earlier today, home improvement giant Lowe's Companies  (LOW) - Get Report said its first-quarter costs linked to hiring and safety expenses hit $340 million, a figure that fell far short of Walmart Inc.'s  (WMT) - Get Report $900 million, most of which was linked to increased hourly and bonus pay for store and warehouse workers as well as cleaning and safety expenses.

Home Depot  (HD) - Get Report missed Street earnings forecasts on Monday, and cut its full-year profit guidance, after pre-tax costs to counter the coronavirus pandemic reached $850 million.