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Target CFO: We are ready to fight off inflation

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
In this article:
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Target's (TGT) top numbers cruncher says his company is ready and able to fight off the strong levels of inflation currently wreaking havoc on the financial statements of many large entities as the economy roars back to life from the COVID-19 pandemic lows. And in the process, still grow profits this year.

"We believe we have got a model that has proved durable over time. It all starts for us with growth. When we have a healthy top line and guests continue to turn to Target more and more, we can make the rest of the PNL [profit and loss statement] work out with the levers we have to pull. I am confident we'll be able to translate continued growth over time into growing profits," Target's CFO Michael Fiddelke said on Yahoo Finance Live

To be sure, growth isn't looking to be a problem for Target in the medium-term which will go a long way to overcoming inflation in everything from worker wages to transportation.

The retailer clobbered first quarter analyst estimates across the board on Wednesday as shoppers spent robustly on home goods, apparel, food and beauty items both online and inside Target's stores. Comparable sales surged 22.9% compared to a 10.8% increase a year ago as the pandemic sent consumers indoors and online in a big way. Online sales rose 50%, slowing from 141% growth last year.

As a show of confidence in its ability to beat back inflation, Target sees 2021 operating margins "well above" the 2020 rate of 7% with the "potential" to reach 8% or "somewhat" higher.

Shares of Target rose as much as 5% in afternoon trading Wednesday.

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Target isn't alone, other major retailers are dealing with the troubling levels of inflation. 

"This was another record-setting quarter for lumber prices. Let me give you an example of what that means for one of our core lumber SKUs [stock keeping units]. At the end of the first quarter last year, a sheet of seven sixteenths OSB [or plywood] was approximately $9.55. As we exited the first quarter of this year, that same sheet of OSB more than quadrupled in price to $39.76," Home Depot COO Ted Decker told analysts on an earnings call Tuesday. 

Home Depot said it has had success pushing through price increases on consumers. 

Meanwhile, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon also called out inflationary pressures yesterday on an earnings call. 

"Looking ahead, we'll navigate the supply chain challenges and inflationary pressures whether that's in cost of goods or wages. We'll monitor our price gaps and adjust as appropriate with both customers and shareholders in mind," McMillon explained. 

One of Walmart's recent approaches to dealing with inflation: hold more price rollback sales and drive greater volume. 

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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