Image source: Getty Images.

Stocks turned in mixed results on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.04%) declining slightly as the S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.16%) index rose by less than 0.25%.

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Financial stocks gained ground thanks to improving earnings results from some of the world's biggest investment banks, and that lifted the Financial Sector Select SPDR ETF (XLF -0.39%) higher by 1%. On the other hand, slipping gold prices produced a 5% decline for the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NUGT -3.24%).

Target (TGT 1.92%) and Gigamon (GIMO) were two of the biggest individual losers after each company pulled back on its fourth-quarter sales outlook.

Target's disappointing holiday

Target shares fell 6% after the retailer posted an update on its latest business trends showing that revenue over the key holiday period dropped 4.9%. While some of that decline reflected the prior sale of its pharmacy business, Target also endured a 1.3% dip in sales at existing locations, which was worse than the guidance it issued in early November. In contrast, comps were flat in the third quarter.

Image source: Target.

On the bright side, the retailer gained market share in its e-commerce sales channel as online revenue spiked higher by 40%. However, increased competitive activity combined with weak customer traffic to send profitability down at the stores. "While we significantly outpaced the industry's digital performance," CEO Brian Cornell said in a press release, "the costs associated with the accelerated mix shift between our stores and digital channels and highly promotional competitive environment had a negative impact on our fourth quarter margins."

Target now projects a comps decline of as much as 1.5% for the fourth quarter and adjusted earnings of $1.50 per share, down from the $1.65 it had forecast in November. Full-year earnings should stop at $5.05 per share, which would mark an all-time high for the retailer but is still lower than the previously estimated $5.20-per-share.

Gigamon's sales miss

Network monitoring specialist Gigamon slumped 28% after warning that fourth-quarter revenue would not meet management's prior guidance. Rather than the $92 million that CEO Paul Hooper and his team had originally projected, sales will instead come in at $85 million. However, due to a surprising uptick in profitability, Gigamon's earnings should stay roughly on track, coming in at $0.36 per share versus the prior $0.37-per-share target.

Executives blamed foot-dragging on the part of a few large customers for the shortfall since several clients decided at the last minute to delay purchasing decisions into 2017. Still, the company sought to highlight bigger-picture wins for the year. "We are pleased with our overall financial performance in 2016, our second consecutive year of 40 percent year-over-year growth," Hooper said.

The slight sales growth miss likely wouldn't provoke such a strong reaction from investors were it not for Wall Street's elevated expectations. Gigamon shares had doubled in the 12 months leading up to this report, including an 18% spike following blockbuster third-quarter results. After five straight quarterly results that blew past analysts' estimates, investors had let their projections run too far ahead of reality, and so the stock gave up some of its recent gains.

Gigamon will post its official quarterly results, complete with detailed management commentary on bookings trends, on Feb. 2.