NEW YORK (AP) — Target’s heavy discounting during the crucial holiday season squeezed fourth-quarter profits, but the discounter’s trendy assortments and spiffed up presentations drove more shoppers to spend more.
The results, released Wednesday, show Target has made solid progress in reinvigorating its business and winning back shoppers. It initiated an aggressive plan to regain its cheap chic status in 2014 under new CEO Brian Cornell after a series of headline grabbing setbacks, including a major debit and credit card breach that hurt sales and profits for months.READ MORE: AP: Wisconsin Democrats Renew Call For Votes On Gun Safety Bills
Under Cornell, the company got rid of its money-losing Canadian operations, and it shook up its leadership ranks.
And it’s now focusing on specific areas: fashion, as well as baby products, home decor and wellness. It’s added mannequins to display clothing and has created vignettes for its home decor area. During the Great Recession, the company lost its fashion mojo when it expanded into basic groceries.
This past holiday season, Target battled it out with Wal-Mart and other rivals, heavily discounting goods. And it reprised free shipping offer for online shoppers.
Target earned $1.43 billion, or $2.32 per share in the quarter ended Jan. 30. That compares with a loss of $2.64 billion, or $4.10 per share in the year-ago period when the company incurred hefty charges related to its pullout of its Canadian business.
Still, adjusted earnings results were $1.52 per share, which was a bit below the $1.54 per share estimate, according to FactSet.READ MORE: Wisconsin Launches Statewide Sexual Assault Tracking System
Revenue slipped 0.6 percent to $21.63 billion on the sale of its pharmacy business to CVS, also just shy of Wall Street expectations.
Sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.9 percent for the quarter. Online sales surged 34 percent, contributing about 1.3 percent of that growth. And customer traffic was up for the fifth quarter in a row.
That revenue metric for its so-called signature categories — fashion, baby, kids and wellness, grew more than three times faster than the company average during the fourth quarter.
“Target’s results demonstrate that we are focused on the right strategic priorities,” said Cornell in a company release.
Shares rose 2 percent to $75.51 in early trading.MORE NEWS: Wednesday Marks 2 Years Since George Floyd's Murder
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