Skip to main content

All quiet on the Northern front


This week last year financial analysts descended on Minnesota to meet with Target executives and receive an update on the company’s strategies. That won’t be the case this year, as Target has no such meeting planned. Instead, the eyes and ears of the financial community and the retail industry will be trained on Northwest Arkansas where Walmart will be hosting its annual fall meeting for the investment world on Wednesday and Thursday. Interest in the two-day affair will be more intense than normal this year due to the state of the economy and the unique perspective Walmart has into it as a result of its size. Of particular interest, especially as it relates to Target, will be the company’s response to inevitable questions regarding the pricing environment and the state of consumer demand heading into the holidays. Don’t expect much in the way of meaningful insight. The challenges to the consumer spending environment are well-documented, and Walmart is sure to assert its commitment to price leadership for the holidays with its “unbeatable” value proposition.

While the absence of a Target sponsored meeting for financial analysts might seem noteworthy given the challenges the company has experienced in growing sales, it is important to understand that Target routinely provides a higher level of detail into its operations on a more frequent basis than Walmart. Therefore, analysts aren’t particularly concerned about the lack of a meeting. Target provides monthly results and a high degree of detail regarding its sales performance by category and region of the country. Target also holds an actual conference call where executives field live questions from qualified members of the financial community. In contrast, Walmart makes available a recording of its executives reading a transcript after its quarterly results are released. In addition, the past few years have seen Walmart grow more restrictive in its flow of information, with the most obvious recent example involving the elimination of monthly sales. As a result, Walmart’s annual fall conference for the financial community tends to be a highly anticipated affair, whereas in Target’s case it is less necessary given the company’s more frequent and detailed disclosures.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds