By James Rogers
Home Depot (HD) reports first quarter results before market open on May 16, with Target (TGT) set to report its results on the following day. Walmart (WMT) reports first-quarter results before market open on May 18. The following week, Lowe's Cos. (LOW) and BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. (BJ) report their respective first-quarter results before market open on May 23, and Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) reports fiscal third-quarter results after market close on May 25.
"As we head into earnings, we believe WMT is one of the best positioned in our coverage and our data checks support our view," wrote Jefferies Equity Analyst Corey Tarlowe, in a note released Thursday. "We have new ticket and traffic data indices to estimate comp sales for WMT and TGT. Given the data, we're raising our Q1 and FY WMT comp sales above cons and guidance."
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Jefferies now expects a 6.8% increase in Walmart's first-quarter comp sales. Analysts surveyed by FactSet are expecting a same-store sales increase of 5.4% compared to the same period last year. Jefferies also raised its first-quarter Walmart EPS estimate to $1.34, above both the $1.31 estimate from analysts' surveyed by FactSet and Walmart's guidance of $1.25 to $1.30 a share. Jefferies also raised its Walmart full-year EPS estimate to $6.22, above FactSet consensus of $6.13 and the retailer's guidance of $5.90 and $6.05.
"We're raising estimates as the company continues to gain share and grow operating income," wrote Tarlowe. "We believe WMT's initiatives (automation, advertising, Walmart+, etc) are helping to build an attractive and growing flywheel, and we are becoming more positive on WMT's growth and profitability prospects ahead."
However, Jefferies is "incrementally cautious" on Target. "According to our data, we are modeling TGT Q1 comps down 1% led by lower traffic," wrote Tarlowe. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect Target's same-store sales to increase 0.2% compared to the prior year.
Target's margins also remain pressured, according to Tarlowe, who notes that stock nonetheless offers attractive risk-reward. "We believe that TGT is undervalued with upside ahead as fundamentals improve," he wrote.
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Analytics company Placer.ai has been tracking foot traffic to U.S. retailers. Visits to major retail chains are down year-over-year almost across the board, according to Placer.ai. In January Target visits were up almost 4% year-over-year, but were down 6.3% in April, according to Placer.ai's data.
Placer.ai data also show that Walmart visits were down 8.8% year-over-year in April. However, for retail giants such as Target, Walmart and Costco, the "quality" of visits may be improving even as the number of visits falls, says Placer.ai's Marketing Content Manager Shira Petrack, in a report Thursday. "Diving into the visit quality metrics shows that median dwell time at leading superstores and wholesalers rose across the board between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023," Petrack wrote. "Walmart saw the biggest increase, followed by Sam's Club and Costco."
Additionally, cross-shopping trends are positive. "Between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023, the share of Target and Walmart consumers who visited superstores also increased across the board -- which could mean that consumers are looking for ways to stretch their budgets by consolidating shopping trips and buying essentials in bulk," wrote Petrack.
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May 13, 2023 11:51 ET (15:51 GMT)
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