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Target lowers profit expectations

Job candidates waited outside a Target in Los Angeles in January. The retailer lowered its profit forecast.

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press/File

Job candidates waited outside a Target in Los Angeles in January. The retailer lowered its profit forecast.

MINNEAPOLIS — Target says its first-quarter adjusted profit is likely to come in slightly below its forecast because of weaker-than-expected sales of seasonal and weather-sensitive items.

The discounter also said Tuesday that it expects revenue at stores open at least a year, a key retail metric, to be about flat for the period.

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Target’s warning is the latest indication that spring selling so far has been challenging for retailers. Last week, a group of 15 merchants, including TJX Cos. and Costco Wholesale Corp., reported that the key revenue figure rose 1.4 percent, or 2.2 percent excluding drugstores, in March. That was less than analysts expected, as cold weather and continued fears about the economy dampened enthusiasm for shopping.

Target, like many other big retailers, no longer reports sales on a monthly basis.

But analysts often combine sales from March and April to get a clearer picture of shoppers’ spring spending. They expect sales to pick up this month as warmer weather heats up demand for shorts and sleeveless tops.

Target had predicted profit of $1.10 to $1.20 per share for the February-April period, excluding one-time items. Analysts expect earnings of 96 cents per share.

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