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Target November-December 2018 comp sales rise 5.7% YOY; CFO to retire

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Target November-December 2018 comp sales rise 5.7% YOY; CFO to retire

Target Corp. said Jan. 10 that sales grew 5.7% year over year in November-December 2018 as it announced the retirement of its CFO and rejiggered its senior management structure.

The U.S. general merchandise retailer said CFO Cathy Smith will retire and move to an advisory role until May 2020. Smith will remain CFO until a successor is found.

Minneapolis-based Target said comparable sales growth was helped primarily by increased store traffic and a small increase in average ticket size amid higher demand for toys, baby and seasonal gift items. Comparable November-December sales have grown more than 9% over the past two years.

The company's comparable digital sales for the period grew 29% year over year, marking the fifth straight year in which digital sales increased over 25%.

"This performance demonstrates the benefit of placing our stores at the center of every way we serve our guests, including both in-store shopping and digital fulfillment," Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in the release.

Moody's lead retail analyst Charlie O'Shea expects the retailer to be "one of the top performers" for the Christmas 2018 holiday season as Target's performance "continues to demonstrate the positive impact of the company's significant investments enhancing its stores and improving its online capability."

Target reiterated its fourth-quarter 2018 comparable sales growth of about 5% and an adjusted EPS outlook range of $5.30 to $5.50 for 2018.

In other personnel moves, Katie Boylan, senior vice president, communications, was appointed Target's chief communications officer. Mike McNamara, Target's chief information officer, will now lead the company's enterprise data analytics and business intelligence team in addition to leading its technology services unit. Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer, was named chief marketing and digital officer to lead Target's digital strategy.

Stephanie Lundquist, Target's chief human resources officer since 2016, was named president of its food and beverage division, while Melissa Kremer, senior vice president HR, was promoted to chief HR officer.

All will report to Cornell.

Target shares were down 3.5% at $67.80 in premarket trading.