Target says 1Q profit will be short of outlook

Target says 1Q profit will miss forecast due to weaker-than-expected sales of seasonal items

Associated Press
Target says 1Q profit will be short of outlook
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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, file photo, hundreds of prospective candidates await their turn to apply for job openings at a Target job fair in Los Angeles.T arget says its first-quarter adjusted profit will likely come in slightly below its forecast because of weaker-than-expected sales of seasonal and weather-sensitive items. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Target says its first-quarter adjusted profit will likely come in slightly below its forecast because of weaker-than-expected sales of seasonal and weather-sensitive items.

The discounter also said Tuesday that it expects revenue at stores open at least a year, a key retail metric, will be about flat for the period.

Target's warning is the latest indication that spring selling so far has been challenging for retailers. Last week, a group of 15 merchants, including TJX Cos. and Costco Wholesale Corp., reported that the key revenue figure rose 1.4 percent, or 2.2 percent excluding drugstores, in March. That was less than analysts expected, as cold weather and continued fears about the economy dampened enthusiasm for shopping.

Target, like many other big retailers, no longer reports sales on a monthly basis.

But analysts often combine sales from March and April to get a clearer picture of shoppers' spring spending. They expect sales to pick up this month as warmer weather heats up demand for shorts and sleeveless tops.

Target had predicted profit of $1.10 to $1.20 per share for the February-April period, excluding one-time items. Analysts expect earnings of 96 cents per share.

It's keeping its fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings guidance of $4.85 to $5.05 per share. Wall Street expects $4.55 per share.

Target, which has 1,808 stores, expects to report its first-quarter financial results on May 22.

Shares of the Minneapolis-based company dipped 10 cents to close at $68.38 amid a broader market rally. The Standard & Poor's 500 index jumped 1.4 percent.

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