A surging U.S. stock market following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president is doing its part to spur optimism among Target (TGT) executives for the approaching holiday shopping season.
"We feel very good about the holidays," Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell told TheStreet on a conference call when asked if the sizable rise in the markets -- the DJIA capped seven straight days of gains on Tuesday -- post Election Day would have shoppers spending more on Target's credit cards and credit more broadly.
Asked if consumers -- who may be feeling a little wealthier in light of the stock market's impressive advance -- will probably shop strongly into December after the Black Friday deals end, Cornell said, "We certainly hope they shop right up until Christmas, and then come back after with their gift cards."
Target's third quarter results, fueled by strong demand for back to school items in August and September, coupled with a raised full-year outlook support Cornell's early optimism on the critical fourth quarter.
The discounter blew away analysts' earnings estimates on Wednesday, delivering third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.04 a share vs. projections for 83 cents. Same-store sales fell 0.2%, beating analysts' forecasts for a 1.1% decline. Online sales rose 26%, improving from a 16% growth rate in the second quarter.
Similar to fellow retailers such as Macy's (M) and Home Depot (HD) , Target struck an upbeat tone for the approaching holiday season. The company said it sees fourth-quarter same-store sales falling 1% to rising 1%. Previously it saw as much as a 2% sales decline. Fourth-quarter earnings are pegged in a range of $1.55 to $1.75 a share. Wall Street expects $1.60.
Shares of Target rose by about 8.5% in early trading on Wednesday.
Suffice it to say, many on Wall Street didn't see Target's decent quarter and optimistic holiday outlook coming.
"We remain bearish on Target," said Barclays analyst Matthew McClintock in a note ahead of the results, citing concerns on potentially slowing e-commerce sales for Target and weakness in general merchandise categories such as food and home.
Pointed out MKM Partners analyst Matthew McKeever, "We do not believe much has changed fundamentally [for Walmart (WMT) and Target] and think the numbers will be largely in line with guidance and Street expectations. We believe the unseasonably-warm weather, particularly in September, held back sales of apparel and footwear."
Target's quarter wasn't perfect, however. The number of store transactions fell 1.2% compared to a 1.4% increase a year ago. Meanwhile, same-store sales at Target's stores declined 1% vs. a 1.4% gain last year.