Target's same-store sales miss offers buying opportunity

Shares in Target (TGT) fell nearly 3% Thursday after the nation's second biggest discount retailer said same-store sales -- a key retail metric -- missed Wall Street's average estimate. But Target's short-term pain could be a patient investor's long-term gain -- if the stock is indeed as cheap as it appears.

True, November same-store sales, which measures sales at stores open more than a year, fell 1.5% when the Street was looking for a 0.5% decline. But Brian Sozzi, an analyst with Wall Street Strategies, says there's no Grinch to be found in Target's numbers. Not only did the retailer increase traffic, Sozzi said in a note to clients, but also gained traction in discretionary (or non-essential) merchandise categories. (That's an encouraging sign.) Sozzi also believes the company's lean inventory position and leverage over its suppliers could insulate fourth-quarter earnings from the same-store sales shortfall.