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Retail Sector Earnings Show Signs Of Peak Sales After Year Of Robust Gains

By Investing.com (Haris Anwar/Investing.com)Stock MarketsAug 20, 2021 08:28
ng.investing.com/analysis/retail-sector-earnings-show-signs-of-peak-sales-after-year-of-robust-gains-89408
Retail Sector Earnings Show Signs Of Peak Sales After Year Of Robust Gains
By Investing.com (Haris Anwar/Investing.com)   |  Aug 20, 2021 08:28
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It’s becoming tough for the largest US retailers to impress investors after the pandemic-driven boom that swelled their sales and expanded profit margins. Their latest earnings continued to show strength, but the future looks more uncertain as consumers seem to be resuming their normal shopping patterns. 

Walmart (NYSE:WMT), the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, reported strong quarterly results Tuesday that surpassed analysts’ expectations. Comparable sales—those from stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months—rose 5.2% in the quarter that ended July 30 compared with the same period last year. US e-commerce sales rose 6% from a year ago, when COVID restrictions kept many people home. Growth, however, slowed from earlier in the year, both online and off.

Home Depot (NYSE:HD) posted weaker-than-expected results this week for Q2 as its same-store sales rose 4.5% in the period ended Aug. 1, missing the 5.6% average of analysts estimates.

Another top retailer, Target (NYSE:TGT), reported earlier this week that its sales growth slowed in Q2. Same-store sales rose 8.9%—less than half the gain from a year ago. Meanwhile, profit margins tightened and e-commerce revenue rose by 10% after nearly tripling a year ago. 

These signs of a slowdown come as US consumers put the brakes on their spending in July, hurt by the accelerating inflation. US retail sales fell 1.1% in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, with spending declining broadly across categories, including clothing, furniture and autos. The government’s tally, which includes restaurants and bars, had risen in June as more Americans got vaccinated and spending shifted to dining out and travel.

Walmart And HomeDepot Are Still Buys

Despite the signs that some of the surge in sales is cooling, some analysts remain positive on these stocks, advising investors to buy the dip as the pandemic-related spending continues to boost sales. 

Bank of America analyst Robert Ohmes raised his price target on Walmart this week to $190 from $185, setting a new Wall Street high among major analysts, according to FactSet. WMT stock yesterday closed at $150.11, up almost 0.7% on the day.

Walmart Weekly Chart.
Walmart Weekly Chart.

In his note he said:

“We think WMT’s grocery share gains could accelerate as the environment normalizes and consumers revert from closer to home/smaller box shopping that favored supermarkets thru COVID. ... Greater price-sensitivity with reopening ... could also divert traffic to value names like WMT.”

Home Depot shares, which dropped more than 4% on Tuesday after the big-box retailer missed on analysts’ consensus forecast, are a buy for Goldman Sachs, whose analysts predict that the company will continue to generate growth even compared with the strong results last year. 

Goldman raised its price target to $390 per share from $376. The new target is more than 21% above where the stock traded on Thursday and is the highest among major Wall Street analysts, according to FactSet.

In a note Goldman said:

“Home Depot management believes that as home values increase, consumers become more and more likely to reinvest back into their homes, driving demand for the home improvement category."

Home Depot Weekly Chart.
Home Depot Weekly Chart.

Bottom Line

There are some early signs that the pandemic-related boom in buying grocery and home furnishing products is cooling and shoppers may start to revert to more normal shopping habits after more than a year of stocking up while in lockdowns.

Retail Sector Earnings Show Signs Of Peak Sales After Year Of Robust Gains
 

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Retail Sector Earnings Show Signs Of Peak Sales After Year Of Robust Gains

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