Lazard Freres Downgrades Target to Hold

Analyst Todd Slater cites the discount retailer's warning of weaker-than-expected June sales

Lazard Freres downgraded Target (TGT ) and TJX Companies (TJX ) to hold.

Analyst Todd Slater says his downgrade reflects slowing demand and tougher same-store sales comparisons. He notes Target shares have risen 16% since the start of year, vs. a 7.4% gain for the S&P retail index and a 2% gain for the S&P 500 index.

Slater ties Target's outperformance to accelerating same-store sales comparisons and the disposition of its department-store assets. However, he says same-store sales comparisons are starting to fail the plan, and says Target will will face tougher year-over-year sales comparisons beginning in July.

Slater thinks it's time to take some money off the table. Additionally, he downgraded TJX -- the owner of TJ Maxx, Marshall's, and Homegoods -- because he hears chatter that June retail sales may be decelerating, and that sales comparisons are becoming more difficult.

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