Credit, core biz push Target in Q2
August 18, 2003,
Propped up by its rapidly growing and vastly profitable credit card business, along with its core Target stores, Target Corp. pushed second-quarter profits up by 4.1 percent, to $358 million from $344 million last year, offsetting weakness in its Mervyn's and Marshall Field's units.
Providing the biggest lift to the bottom line, as usual, was the core Target business, where operating profits grew by 5.7 percent, to $749 million from $708 million last year. Target sales improved by 11.3 percent, to $9.5 billion from $8.5 billion, driven by continued expansion. But same-store sales grew at a relatively sluggish pace of 2.7 percent.
In another strong assist, operating profits at the growing credit card portfolio jumped up by 24.0 percent, to $160 million from $129 million last year. Sales in the credit card business surged by 22.9 percent, to $322 million from $262 million. Underlining the importance of the credit business to Target, even after expenses and writing off consumer bad debt, the company generated a profit of fifty cents for every dollar of credit sales.
And the company needed every one of those profit dollars from credit cards to offset continued weakness at its Mervyn's and department store units. Mervyn's profits sank by 46.1 percent, to $31 million from $59 million, while Marshall Field's earnings dropped by 30.6 percent, to $13 million from $18 million.
Sales suffered as well at Mervyn's and Marshall Field's. Sales at Mervyn's fell by 7.3 percent, to $821 million from $886 million, while same-store sales declined by 7.9 percent. Department store sales slipped by 3.4 percent, to $569 million from $589 million, and same-store sales dipped by 2.4 percent.
Taking a bite out of the bottom line, margins thinned out while costs climbed higher in Target's retailing business. Average gross margin narrowed by 30 basis points, or three-tenths of a percentage point, to 31.9 percent from 32.2 percent, due largely to continued rapid growth at Target, the company's lowest-margin division.
Operating costs climbed by 20 basis points, or two-tenths of a percentage point, to 23.2 percent from 23.0 percent a year ago.
Second quarter segment results
|Qtr. 8/2 (x000)||2003||2002||% chg|
|Oper. income (EBIT)||734,000||713,000||2.9|
|Per share (diluted)||0.39||0.38||3.5|
|Average gross margin||31.9%||32.2%||—|
|Oper. income (EBIT)||1,439,000||1,404,000||2.5|
|Per share (diluted)||0.77||0.75||—|
|Average gross margin||32.1%||32.2%||—|