It's hard to find a stock that has something for everyone, especially in today's unpredictable market. But there is one stock that offers growth, value, and income, and is poised to outperform both during the pandemic and after: Target (NYSE:TGT).
The big-box retailer is a Dividend Aristocrat, and is cheaper on a price-to-earnings basis than the S&P 500. Yet it still offers substantial growth potential both in the near term and down the road -- especially after the company reported comparable sales growth of 24.3% in the second quarter, with a jump in sales both in stores and online, while adjusted earnings per share nearly doubled. Let's take a closer look at why Target looks like the perfect stock to help weather the rocky market environment and the uncertainty around the pandemic.
Playing the pandemic perfectly
Target's second quarter was essentially flawless, with blowout growth on the top and bottom lines, execution in stores and in e-commerce, and double-digit growth across all five of its key categories. That momentum is also carrying into the third quarter, as management said on the earnings call that comparable sales were up low double digits through the first half of August, in spite of a delay in back-to-school shopping.
Target has spent years investing in omnichannel initiatives, including same-day delivery with Shipt, the service it acquired in 2017, as well as Drive Up and in-store Order Pickup, giving customers a wide range of same-day fulfillment options. Those investments have clearly paid off during the pandemic, as customers wary of setting foot inside stores have taken advantage of those programs. Sales from same-day services jumped 273% in the quarter, and stores fulfilled 90% of online orders, helping the company keep costs down.
The retailer's wide range of product offerings also gives it an advantage, as it helps shoppers limit their exposure to COVID-19. For instance, customers can visit a Target to do their food shopping, and also pick up a shirt, a kitchen item, or a tech accessory. Bringing in customers by selling high-frequency items like food and medicine helps Target sell discretionary items. Even though clothing sales plunged at U.S. retailers overall in the second quarter, Target saw apparel sales jump by double digits in the quarter. In other words, Americans are skipping trips to places like Macy's, Gap, and TJ Maxx, and instead doing their clothes shopping at Target.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Target looks poised to gain on the key shopping events. Kids is already one of its signature categories, and the company has extended its back-to-school assortment due to the delay in school openings in parts of the country. Halloween also presents an opportunity for the company, as its omnichannel options give it an advantage over pop-up Halloween stores where customers tend to rifle through merchandise, as well as established chains like Party City, which has flailed during the pandemic and doesn't have the kind of e-commerce sophistication that Target does.
And Target looks similarly poised for a strong holiday season, as its omnichannel attributes give it an advantage over other retailers -- as does its product range, especially as it's increased its toy selection in recent years.
The long-term opportunity
The pandemic is creating a bifurcation in the retail industry. There are a handful of winners, like Target, while most retailers, including mall-based chains and discretionary retailers, are suffering. The list of bankrupt retailers is already long, and Target may be better positioned to scoop up market share from the likes of J.C. Penney and Pier 1 than any other retailer, as the company's strength in apparel and home goods gives it an edge over peers like Walmart and Costco. In fact, the company gained approximately $5 billion in market share in the first half of the year, and it should grab more market share for the duration of the pandemic and beyond, as it will be in a much better position than struggling competitors like Party City even when the economy normalizes.
Target is continuing to open new stores while most brick-and-mortar retailers are in retreat, and focusing on small-format locations in underserved, high-density areas, like urban neighborhoods and college towns, which pair well with its omnichannel strategy. Meanwhile, Target's strong portfolio of private-label brands distinguishes it from other retailers, including Amazon, and gives customers a reason to shop there. Additionally, those brands are also more profitable than name brands. Good & Gather, for example, the private-label food brand Target introduced less than a year ago, has already reached more than $1 billion in annual sales, and the company just added a premium line to it.
The retailer's fundamentals are about as solid as those of any stock out there these days, especially considering its growth. It offers a dividend yield of 1.8%, with a track record of 49 straight years of increases, and trades at a P/E ratio of 21.
If you're looking for a stock that can weather the current market volatility and thrive no matter what happens with the pandemic, Target looks like a great choice.