Target Corp. continues to use its cash to buy back shares at a time when it’s not opening as many stores as it once did.
On Wednesday, the Minneapolis-based retailer announced that its board has approved another $5 billion share repurchase program that will commence after its current $10 billion program wraps by the end of this fiscal year.
Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with Edward Jones, said Target is one of a number of mature retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Macy’s that are increasingly using share buybacks as one of the drivers to boost their earnings per share since they are no longer opening hordes of new stores.
“There’s nowhere else to put the cash,” he said.
Target is still opening some stores and has plans to open at least 19 new stores next year, but they are mostly smaller stores that don’t require the same amount of capital as its huge big-box stores. It is also planning to invest $2 billion to $2.5 billion on capital expenditures next year, primarily focused on improving its supply chain and technology.
Cathy Smith, Target’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that Target’s capital deployment priorities haven’t changed. The company continues to first invest in its business, then to support the dividend, followed by share repurchases.
“Today’s announcements reinforce Target’s long-standing commitment to thoughtfully returning cash to shareholders while continuing to prioritize investing in our business,” she said.
On Wednesday, the company also announced a quarterly dividend of 60 cents per common share, the same as its previous payout, payable Dec. 10. The company has set a goal of increasing its dividend 5 to 10 percent a year.
It has also set a target of buying back about $3 billion worth of shares a year going forward. A Target spokeswoman confirmed that the new repurchase program does not represent a change to that plan.
This year, Target plans to end the year doing more than $3.5 billion of share buybacks due in part to extra cash generated from the sale of its pharmacies to CVS.