Target ($TGT) has been hitting its mark. 

The Minneapolis-based big-box retailer will announce earnings before the bell Wednesday May 22, and a group of 10 analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are expecting $1.42 earnings per share. Target stock is up about 8% to date this year, near all-time highs. 

Target is showing signs of growth — in terms of job openings, stores and staff size — and these alternative data points may shed some light on what is driving changes at the company when it reveals results. 

Target is Growing (and Growing, and Growing)

Over time, Target has expanded itself coast-to-coast to become one of the US' largest retailers. Our time slider tracks the company's growth from 1962, to current day - now it has 1,844 stores, per its last annual report, in line with our figures. (Click "Show timeline" in the map above to reveal the time slider.)

Unlike the pattern in 2018, job openings have been climbing at Target to begin this year - up more than 36% in 2019. It's noteworthy for several reasons. First, it's the most substantial job growth at Target in the timeframe we have established, greater than the spring of 2017 and 2018. It's also a significant rise in job postings, as it is the largest jump in openings outside of back-to-school shopping season and the holidays. That, in theory, might reflect a big bump in revenue.

On the other hand, Target has a substantial footprint in US states that have recently enacted laws raising the minimum wage, so this may simply be a sign of turnover as well. But this isn't terribly likely; Target got ahead of legislative wage requirements, raising pay repeatedly with the goal of paying staffers at least $15 per hour by 2020. It's safe to expect that the job openings are a good sign, especially when taken into consideration with our next data point. 

Target has also opened more stores in the first quarter of this year. At the same time Target has been opening more stores, and posting more jobs, it was already staffing up more. Target added more than 6% to headcount so far this year, according to LinkedIn ($MSFT) data that we track.

What Could Cramp Target's Style? 

Target, like a number of other online retailers, is suffering from a decline in web traffic, which includes getting less attention at the holiday season. It also had a slight decrease in growth for its Facebook ($FB) Were Here Count has grown, or the total number of check-ins, mobile device shares, and photo-location tags are made at a business' location

If Target's web traffic is slowing and Facebook Were Here Counts are losing momentum, it could be due to a number of factors. But if there is an earnings disappointment this week from Target, it may be a sign that Amazon ($AMZN) is picking up even more steam as it ratchets up the speed and pace of deliveries. 

That could spur Target to take steps to make more deliveries, as well, instead of just sales. 

Ad placeholder