Target Announces Share Buyback, Dividend Boost After Disclosure Snafu


Target Corp (TGT.N) said it would double its share buyback program to $10 billion and boost its quarterly dividend by 7.7 percent, confirming the contents of a statement it published inadvertently and took off its website earlier on Tuesday.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based retailer said it had invested $3.7 billion through the first quarter of 2015 to retire 56.9 million shares under the buyback program. Target also raised its quarterly dividend to 56 cents per share from 52 cents in the prior quarter.

“Given our outlook for capital expenditures and the strong cash generation of our core business, we expect to have the capacity to increase our annual dividend and repurchase billions of dollars of Target shares annually while maintaining our current credit ratings,” Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan said in a statement.

The decision was made at a board meeting on Tuesday evening, ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco the following day.

But the move had already been flagged to investors earlier on Tuesday when a release that detailed its buyback and dividend plans was mistakenly posted to its website during internal preparations for possible decisions out of the board meeting, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Target pulled the release after it was reported by news media. It acknowledged a link to a document had gone live but said it had not officially released any information. Reuters took a screenshot of the statement at 3:38 pm ET, shortly before it was taken down.

The board’s decision matched the contents of the earlier release.

It was the second time a retailer slipped up with disclosure in recent months. In April department store operator J.C. Penney said a senior executive inadvertently disclosed its same-stores sales performance to a securities analyst in an email.

Target repurchased $562 million worth of its shares in the first quarter ended May 2, resuming buybacks after nearly two years in the latest sign the retailer has rebounded from a damaging data breach in late 2013.

Last month, Mulligan had said the board was going to consider expanding its share buyback framework, given that after the first quarter purchases it only had about $1.3 billion left on its existing program.

Target’s shares were little changed at $79.12 in after-market trading on Tuesday.