http://www.morningstar.com/earnings/49115762-target-corp-tgt-q4-2012.aspx

Target Corp TGT
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 02/27/2013

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Target Corporation's Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, you will be invited to participate in the question-and-answer session. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Gregg Steinhafel, President and Chief Executive Officer. Please go ahead, sir.

Gregg W. Steinhafel - Chairman, President and CEO: Good morning, and welcome to our 2012 fourth quarter earnings conference call. On the line with me today are Kathee Tesija, Executive Vice President of Merchandising and John Mulligan, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

This morning, I will provide a high level summary of our fourth quarter and the full year 2012 results and strategic priorities as we enter 2013 and Kathee will discuss category results, guest insights, and upcoming initiatives; and finally, John will provide more detail on our financial performance along with our outlook for 2013. Following John's remarks, we'll open the phone lines for a Q&A session.

As a reminder, we're joined on this conference call by investors and others who are listening to our comments today via webcast. Following this conference call, John Hulbert and John Mulligan will be available throughout the day to answer any follow-up questions you may have.

Also, as a reminder, any forward-looking statements that we make this morning are subject to risks and uncertainties, the most important of which are described in our SEC filings.

Finally, in these remarks, we refer to adjusted earnings per share, which is a non-GAAP financial measure. A reconciliation to our GAAP results is included in this morning's press release posted on our Investor Relations website.

We are very pleased with our fourth quarter financial performance, which reflects outstanding execution by our team during a volatile and promotional holiday season. Our U.S. operations generated fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share of $1.65, 10.1% above last year and in line with our prior guidance, even though sales fell short of our expectations.

Our fourth quarter GAAP earnings per share were $1.47, reflecting Canadian Segment dilution that was slightly favorable to our expectations. As we previously reported, fourth quarter comparable store sales in our U.S. Retail Segment grew 0.4% compared with an expected increase of 2% to 3%. In addition, our holiday season sales became even more concentrated around Black Friday and in the days leading up to and just after the Christmas holiday.

This presented challenges for both our merchandising and stores teams who did an excellent job maintaining profitability, adjusting receipts to mitigate markdown exposure and maintaining outstanding guest service while delivering productivity improvements.

We're very pleased with fourth quarter sales in our digital channels, as online and mobile sales grew faster than industry averages. As a result of our efforts to improve the website throughout 2012, key performance metrics are meaningfully improved and our mobile sales and traffic are growing at a triple-digit pace off a much smaller base.

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