Where can Target expand next?

This appears to be a good time for the company to invest in Brazil.

By Trefis Dec 10, 2013 4:36PM
logoTarget store in San Bruno, California /Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Target (TGT) initiated international expansion at the beginning of fiscal 2013 with its first store in Canada. Although the company has expanded aggressively since then, it has yet to see good results in the region.

High pre-opening expenses have weighed on its profitability, and improper inventory management have led to poor customer response. While the impact of start-up costs will subside in the future, inventory management will remain a worry.

Despite this, we do not expect Target to halt or slow down its international expansion. We believe that it will continue to expand in Canada and look for other global opportunities. At this point, big Latin American markets of Brazil and Mexico seem to be the most viable options for Target.

Although there are no concrete plans yet, the retailer had indicated in 2010 that its global expansion will most likely start with Canada, Mexico and other Latin American markets. This appears to be a good time to invest in Brazil as potential merger options are diminishing and major global sporting events are just around the corner. Although Target will face stiff competition from Wal-Mart (WMT) in Mexico, the region's huge market potential can encourage a near-term entry.

Our price estimate for Target stands at $74, implying a premium of more than 15% to the market price.

A good time to invest In Brazil

BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India & China) have become key markets for foreign retailers to invest. Retail giant Wal-Mart entered Brazil in 1990s and still continues to grow at a healthy pace. French grocery giant Carrefour, which started operations in Brazil in 1975, was among the early movers in the region. Last year, another French retailer Casino began with the acquisition of Brazil's biggest supermarket operator, Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição SA, to further strengthen its position. These three retailers account for one-third of the region's total grocery sales, indicating that foreign companies are taking the Brazilian market seriously.

In anticipation of high retail sales during the upcoming 2014 football world and 2016 Olympic games, several retailers are investing heavily in store expansion and increasing their selling space. Additionally, e-commerce has seen strong growth in Brazil over the past few years, which is good news for the retail industry. Many retailers are looking to bolster online sales and provide better customer service as a way to acquire a loyal customer base. Also, a number of companies are investing more in their supply chains to improve their distribution and delivery methods. As more retailers try to improve their services, online retailing will continue to grow and help the region's retail industry. Furthermore, it will allow big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target (when it enters) to fight off competition from local store-based retailers.

Brazil's retail industry is witnessing some consolidation due to mergers and acquisitions. This is likely to slow down going forward as attractive merger options decline. Delays in expansion plans will only reduce Target's chances of finding a good company to collaborate with.

Target Total International Stores

Mexico is an attractive market

Historically, Mexico's retail market has remained strong as the region has sustained economic growth and kept inflation under control. Financing and consumer credits have emerged as important retailing tools in Mexico, and several retailers have evolved into financing bodies by providing the option of deferred payments. Meses sin intereses, or monthly payments with no interest, has become a common practice in the market. Last year, the market growth even exceeded GDP growth with strong performances from department stores and specialty retailers. During 2007-2012, retail sales in Mexico grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 3.5%. Moreover they are expected to grow by about 5% annually (CAGR) through 2017.

Over the past few years, many retailers have expanded across Mexico while specifically targeting regions with heavy footfalls. This has bolstered the popularity of smaller format and quick-stop stores. Target can easily adapt to this trend with its CityTarget format. Along with store expansion, department stores and other grocery retailers are expanding their product portfolios to meet customer demand and outperform local retailers. Since Target already offers a wide range of products, it is likely to benefit from this trend.

Although this year hasn't been the best for the Mexican retail industry, due to the economic slowdown, it still remains one of the most important global market for retailers. Retail giant Wal-Mart operates close to one-fourth of its global store fleet in Mexico, which indicates the market's potential as well as a tough competitive environment for Target.

A small upside scenario

Although Target has not laid down any firm plans for global expansion apart from Canada, we believe it is only a matter of time before it decides to enter Brazil and Mexico. Their close proximity to the U.S. and strong retail markets make them the most lucrative options for the retailer.

Tags: TGT


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