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Takeaway: ICSC disappoints against easiest compare in years. After departing Canada, TGT store plan faces the original challenge of driving US growth.

EVENTS TO WATCH

Retail Callouts (2/3): ICSC, TGT Store Growth, AMZN, RSH, ICON - 2 2 chart2

ICSC RETAIL SALES (80 General Merchandise Stores)

Takeaway: We expected a number far better than +3.7% this week given that it went against a weather-impacted week in 2014 that was the worst in 4-years. Despite the apparent strength, the 2-year trend actually decelerated by 50 bps for the week. The 3-year trend -- which eliminates all the noise -- actually decelerated in all but one week year-to-date.

Retail Callouts (2/3): ICSC, TGT Store Growth, AMZN, RSH, ICON - 2 3 chart1

Retail Callouts (2/3): ICSC, TGT Store Growth, AMZN, RSH, ICON - 2 3 chart3

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

TGT- Target Announces Store Growth Plans for 2015

(http://pressroom.target.com/news/target-announces-store-growth-plans-for-2015)

Takeaway: Every time we talk about TGT we have to put our accountability pants on. In the Black Book we put together in April of last year our research indicated that the company would never make money in Canada and would print $3.2bil in revenue in 2017, 40% below consensus. But we can't ignore what the stock has done since that point - which we can translate pretty easily in to 'We were wrong'. But, this announcement by the company glitzed and glammed by the PR department reminds us what TGT is working with in the US. The 15 openings equate to 0.4% sq. ft. growth in the US and -6% for the consolidated company if we include the discontinued Canada operations (it also ignored closed stores, which could be very well North of 15). As misguided as Steinhafel was in moving to Canada for growth, we have to ask what challenged internal growth forecast led TGT North of the border in the first place? It went from having a peer group where it had a notable competitive advantage, to putting itself right in the middle of four unique competitors – 1) WalMart, 2) Department Stores, 3) Dollar Stores, and 4) Supermarkets. As a bonus, it has Amazon.com hovering over its head plucking away every last sales dollar it can. We get the 'easy comp through 2Q' argument, but for a business trading at 17x earnings and 8x EBITDA on 2015 numbers that is stuck in the competitive set its built for itself, we think it's one of the most expensive names in retail today.

Retail Callouts (2/3): ICSC, TGT Store Growth, AMZN, RSH, ICON - 2 3 chart4

OTHER NEWS

AMZN - Amazon in Talks to Buy Some of RadioShack's Stores

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-03/amazon-said-to-mull-buying-radioshack-stores-in-retail-expansion)

SPLS, ODP - Staples, Office Depot in Advanced Talks to Merge

(http://www.wsj.com/articles/staples-office-depot-in-advanced-talks-to-merge-1422937999)

TGT, WMT, GNC, WBA - Retailers Receive Cease and Desist Orders Over Herbal Supplements

(http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/02/health/herbal_supplement_letters.html?_r=0)

RSH - NYSE Moves to Delist RadioShack

(http://www.wsj.com/articles/nyse-moves-to-delist-radioshack-1422919146)

AMZN - Report: Amazon pilots e-commerce sites with universities

(http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/report-amazon-pilots-e-commerce-sites-universities)

Topshop Reportedly Closes Japan Stores

(http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/specialty-stores/topshop-reportedly-shutters-all-japan-stores-8158060?module=Retail-latest)

TJX - The TJX Companies, Inc. Elects William H. Swanson to Board of Directors

(http://investor.tjx.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=118215&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2012642)

LE - Lands' End names new CEO

(http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/lands-end-names-new-ceo)

ICON - Iconix Acquires Athletic Brand PONY In North America

(http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=62075&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2012916)

ICON - Iconix Announces Definitive Agreement To Acquire Strawberry Shortcake Brand

(http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=62075&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2012958)

LOW - Lowe's Names James H. Morgan To Board Of Directors

(http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=95223&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2012244)