Target tanks in Tuesday trading


The massive holiday data breach continues to cost Target. After another analyst downgraded its stock, Target shares hit a 52-week low in morning trading on Tuesday.

Businessweek reports Cowen and Co. lowered its rating on Target and its trimmed its price expectations. The Pioneer Press said that Cowan and Co. analyst Faye Landes cited anticipated costs from its massive data breach in her analysis. She added that she expects Target will have to suspend its stock buy-back program indefinitely. She believes Target will need to conserve cash to cover significant legal costs, which will come in addition to the expense of replacing compromised cards and computerized cash registers and providing credit monitoring to customers.

Credit ratings agencies will want Target to be conservative with its cash until the impact of the breach is clear, which Landes suspects could take years. Cowen cut its rating on the company's stock to "Underperform" from "Market Perform" and reduced its price target to $47 from $66.

Tuesday's downgrade was just the latest bad news for the Minneapolis-based discounter. Target stock has slipped by about 7 percent since it disclosed that thieves had hacked into its computer systems over the holidays, stealing card data and personal information from credit and debit card accounts from millions of Target customers.

On Monday, Erste Group cut its rating on Target shares from a buy to a hold. On Friday, UBS AG cut its price target on Target.

In morning trading Tuesday, Target shares were down $1.09 a share, or 1.8 percent, to $59.15. Earlier in the day, Target shares hit a 52-week low of $58.80.

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