Do the analyst’s numbers make sense?

Earlier, I spoke about the earning estimates of the "experts" and that, at least in the case of Target [stckqut]TGT[/stckqut], the numbers didn't make sense for a 5-year projection of their earnings growth.

Let's dig in a bit deeper. We will stay with MSN Money (I am not beating up MSN Money - it is simply reporting data supplied by others - you can find the same numbers at Morningstar or probably your favorite broker's website). A few items below Earnings Estimates, you will see Financial Results and then Statements will appear and it will show a page that includes a tab for 10 Year Summary.

Let's compare Sales over the last 10 years to Earning before Interest and Taxes (EBIT). We can quickly calculate that Earnings has varied from about 5.5% to 7.5% and averages about 6.3%. We can also see that for the last couple years, Target has been a bit below average on its Earnings compared to Sales (5.92% for last year).

Earlier, we saw that the analysts are saying the company is going to increase earning 12% per year for the next five years. That would mean that either Sales are going to increase at 12% (something that when you look at the Sales column hasn't happened in the last 3 years) OR the earnings/sales would have to increase very dramatically - something that also has not happened in the past.

My prediction is that Target will not grow earnings at greater than 12% per year for the next 5 years. The evidence of the company to pull off that level of performance is simply not available.

A quick side note - why do I care about earnings growth? Simple, earnings growth should result in a higher stock price meaning my investment in the company will continue to appreciate. The growth of one company compared to another company is a major factor in my decision to invest my hard-earned capital in any given company. I want to maximize my rate of growth of my investment - don't you?

P.S. Tomorrow, I will post my analysis on Target Corporation. Sorry to use them as my whipping boy for this commentary.

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