Like many folks, I thought the stolen credit data story at Target (NYSE: TGT) was a yawner.
I had more important things to focus on, like coming up with my Top 10 One-Year Sizzling Stocks for 2014.
Then I realized I should probably care a bit more. The story here is something not too dissimilar to the Titanic striking that iceberg.
This is a really big deal, people . . . way bigger than the market realizes at the moment.
Last Friday, Target tried to make amends by offering shoppers discounts. While on the surface that good-faith gesture was admirable, it will not work to reverse the damage that has been done — and even worse the damage that is coming.
I had an interesting experience at my local bank on Saturday. While there to conduct a simple transaction, I was struck by a conversation with the teller that should have every Target investor shaking in their shoes.
A telling moment: safeguard your assets
The gentlemen asked me if I had multiple accounts at the bank. At first I simply thought he was trying to pad his numbers by opening as many accounts as possible. I was wrong.
He had other motives. Specifically he was referencing the Target credit and debit card debacle and what this bank was recommending to its customers in response.
What in the world?
I guess the solution had something to do with the effect that if you shop at Target you might want to only use a card with a minimal balance. Keep the rest of your assets safe in other accounts.
Obviously this teller was instructed to share this information with me from on high. The problem for Target that is telling: that a bank would go out of its way to do this in the first place.
Bigger problems ahead for Target
Behaviors will change because of this lapse. The discounts are bad enough. Changed behavior is so much worse. Add in the potential liability and you see the problem here for Target. Earnings are going to get whacked and whacked in a big way.
Look for the first pre-announcement after the holidays have concluded. At that point it will be sober-up time for Target management and the look at the damage will be not so fun.
Get out of the stock now while you still can. There are far better opportunities elsewhere.
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