Here's a quick dose of reality on Target's (TGT) 'strong' second quarter earnings and amazing full year guidance lift for you to digest. 

The company is simply beating the outlook it kitchen-sinked earlier in the year. Here's what yours truly wrote while sitting at Target's February investor day:

Target said it sees full-year earnings of $3.80 to $4.20 a share, markedly below analysts' forecasts of $5.34. Target Chief Financial Officer Cathy Smith told investors that February sales were "challenging and choppy."

"Efforts have not been enough to win in this challenging marketplace," Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, conceded to investors at a meeting on Tuesday. Cornell added the marketplace is placing "stress" on Target's financial model.
 
Is it great that Target managed to hammer out a 1.3% same-store sales increase in the second quarter? For the most part, yes, as it shows the company's renewed commitment to discounting is slowly winning back shoppers. But the efforts are coming at the expense of profits. Further, Target's results show well compared to the second quarter disasters that were Macy's ( M) , J.C. Penney ( JCP) , Fossil ( FOSL) and countless others in bricks-and-mortar retail land
 
All in all, Target will have its day in the sun on Wednesday. But by no means should it be coined as being back in lockstep with better-performing rivals such as Walmart ( WMT) and Amazon ( AMZN) . For that to happen, Target will have to do much more than beat lowered profit expectations in the third quarter -- it will have to own the holiday shopping season and tell Wall Street things could get brighter in 2018. 

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