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Saturday March 17, 2018



Target Reports Earnings

Target Corporation (TGT) released its fourth quarter and year-end earnings report on Tuesday, March 6. The company reported increased revenue and profits for the quarter and the full year.

Target reported revenue of $22.8 billion, up from $20.7 billion at this time last year. Target's full-year revenue was $71.9 billion, up 3% from the previous year.

"Our fourth quarter results demonstrate the power of the significant investments we've made in our team and our business throughout 2017," said Target CEO Brian Cornell. "At our Financial Community Meeting later this morning, we will outline our plans to continue investing in our team and make 2018 a year of acceleration in the areas that set Target apart - our stores, exclusive brands, and rapidly-growing suite of fulfillment options."

Target reported net earnings of $1.1 billion, or $2.02 per share for the quarter. This is up 34% from $817 million, or $1.45 per share at this time last year.

The company's latest report, which covers the 2017 holiday shopping season, revealed a 3.6% increase in comparable sales for the quarter. The company's comparable sales dipped 1.5% during the previous holiday season. Much of the increase in comparable sales came through Target's "digital channel sales," otherwise known as online shopping, which increased 29% for the quarter.

Target Corporation (TGT) shares ended the week at $70.50, down 5.7% for the week.

Rosetta Stone's Revenues Fall

Rosetta Stone Inc. (RST) announced its fourth quarter and full year earnings on Wednesday, March 7. The company reported a decrease in revenue for the quarter.

Rosetta Stone brought in revenue of $44.8 million for the quarter, down 13% from last year's reported $51.7 million. For the full year, the company reported revenue of $184.6 million.

"Over the past three years, we have done the hard work and made the appropriate investments to position all of our businesses for sales growth in 2018," said John Hass, Chairman, President and CEO of Rosetta Stone. "Sales growth, which as we approach a near 100% subscription-based business, should be more stable and predictable than in the past.

The company posted net income of $2.4 million, or $0.10 per share. This is an increase in profits from last year's net loss of $5.6 million.

Rosetta Stone, known for its language learning software, is in the midst of a transition from CD-based software to an online subscription model. The company's subscription revenue increased by $3.3 million for the quarter, or 8%. For the full year, subscription revenue increased 9% to $14.1 million. These gains were counterbalanced by a $23.6 million decrease in product sales for the year, as the company moves toward the cloud-based system.

Rosetta Stone Inc. (RST) shares ended the week at $13.96, up 1.9% for the week.

H&R Block Releases Earnings Report

H&R Block, Inc. (HRB) released its latest earnings report on Tuesday, March 6. The tax preparation company reported strong earnings as tax-filing season ramps up.

Revenue for the third quarter was $488 million. This is up from $452 million in revenue during the same quarter last year.

"I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far this tax season, with strong results in both the Assisted and DIY tax preparation categories," said Jeff Jones, President and CEO of H&R Block. "As we look to the second half of the tax season, we'll continue to focus on execution as we leverage our products, partnerships and marketing to deliver on our financial outlook."

The company reported a net loss of $243 million for the third quarter. Last year at this time, the company had a net loss of $101 million. Due to the nature of H&R Block's business, the company usually announces a net loss during the third quarter.

In addition to its third quarter earnings results, H&R Block also announced its tax return volumes for the beginning of the tax filing season. The company reported that total tax return volume was up 3.4% year-over-year through the month of February. Much of that increase can be attributed to an 8.2% rise in the company's DIY Tax Software segment.

H&R Block, Inc. (HRB) shares ended the week at $27.69, up 11.3% for the week.

The Dow started the week of 3/5 at 24,471 and closed at 25,336 on 3/9. The S&P 500 started the week at 2,681 and closed at 2,787. The NASDAQ started the week at 7,223 and closed at 7,561.

Strong Jobs Report Prompts Bond Yield Rise

Yields on U.S. Treasury bonds rose on Friday following the release of the February jobs report. The report indicated higher-than-expected job growth, while wages remained relatively unchanged.

Friday's jobs report, released by the U.S. Department of Labor, showed a 313,000 rise in non-farm payrolls, the sharpest increase since 2016. This exceeded analysts' expected 200,000 increase.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield, which began the week at 2.85%, rose to 2.91% during trading on Friday. The 30-year bond rose to 3.18% after opening the week at 3.14%.

The unemployment rate remained at 4.1% in February, a mark that has held steady since October 2017. The total number of unemployed was relatively unchanged at 6.7 million.

"We're heating up, but there's still plenty of room to pull more Americans back into the workforce," said LinkedIn Chief Economist Guy Berger. "We still have more room to run for this expansion."

Wages increased by 2.6% year-over-year, slowing slightly from the 2.8% increase reported for January. Average hourly earnings rose to $26.75, up four cents.

"If you wrote the script for what you would like the number to be, this is the perfect number," said JJ Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist at TD Ameritrade. "You saw incredible growth in the economy while not spooking anyone with wages."

The 10-year Treasury note yield finished the week of 3/5 at 2.89%, while the 30-year Treasury note yield was 3.16%.

Mortgage Rates Hit Nine-Week High

Freddie Mac released its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) on Thursday, March 8. The latest report shows mortgage rates continuing their climb.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.46% this week, up from 4.43% last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.21%.

This week the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.94%, up from last week's average of 3.90%. At this time last year, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.42%.

"The 10-year Treasury yield has been bouncing around in a narrow 15 basis point range for the last month," said Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. "While the yield on the 10-year Treasury is currently below the high of 2.95% reached two weeks ago, mortgage rates are up for the ninth consecutive week."

Based on published national averages, the money market account finished the week of 3/5 at 0.79%. The 1-year CD finished at 1.95%.

Published March 9, 2018
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