Target slashing prices, warns of plummeting shares

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Target has a boatload of merchandise it can’t sell, the company said on Tuesday.

Just three weeks after reporting disappointing first quarter earnings, the big box retailer warned investors that its profits would drop for the rest of the year as it slashes prices on a variety of items that consumers are not scooping up amidst a record high inflation rate of 8.3%.

“Since we reported our first quarter results, we have continued to monitor external conditions and have determined the necessary actions to remain nimble in the current environment,” chief executive Brian Cornell said in a statement.

Shares of the Minneapolis-based retailer were down 9% in pre-market trading on the news. Its shares tanked by 25% on May 18, when it reported first quarter results.

Cornell also said the company is canceling orders from its vendors in what he described as a “rapidly changing environment.”

Discretionary items like home goods will see the deepest discounts, Cornell said, adding that demand for food, household essential items and beauty products remains strong. At the same time, Target expects revenues to grow in the mid-to single-digit range for the rest of the year.

Target's CEO Brian Cornell released a statement on the big box retailer's projections.
Target’s CEO Brian Cornell released a statement on the big box retailer’s projections.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Target’s inventory levels were up 43% in the first quarter as consumers spent less on electronics, appliances and outdoor furniture among other items.

But analysts were alarmed by Target’s bleak guidance.

“A second cut to guidance in three weeks certainly gives us pause, especially in the context of other retailer reports, some of which have been solid,” wrote Quo Vadis Capital analyst, John Zoldis in a statement. “It suggests Target’s issues are internal rather than external.”

Cornell said the company acted after other retailers began reporting high inventory levels.

A Target self-checkout aisle.
Consumers have pulled back their spending on discretionary items, Target said.
Corbis via Getty Images

“We’ve had some additional time after earnings to really evaluate the overall operating environment,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “We have to be decisive and get out in front of this to make sure this doesn’t linger through the back half of the year.”

Target estimates that its second quarter operating margin rate will be around 2% down from its May forecast of 5.3%.

Rival Walmart also said its profits took a hit last quarter, mostly because of its labor costs were higher than the retailer expected. But the largest retailer in the world also has elevated inventory levels and said consumer spending has shifted away from discretionary items to basic necessities as rising inflation takes a toll in consumer spending and confidence.

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