Target's market cap down $6 billion since start of transgender bathroom policy

After announcing on April 19 that it "welcome[s] transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity," Target faced an instant and broad public backlash that led to a boycott petition being posted online by the American Family Association the next day.

The petition currently has 1.24 million supporters, and undoubtedly a much larger share of the public disagrees with Target's policy.

If stock prices are any indication, the boycott effort and other negative publicity have severely hurt Target's financials.

Since late February, Target's market cap had been steadily increasing, reaching a peak of $50.39 billion on April 19 – the day the transgender policy was announced – which was its highest value since mid-August 2015.

Immediately after the release of the transgender policy, the bottom has fallen out of Target's market cap.  As of close on Friday, it stood at just $44.33 billion, down six billion dollars (or more than 12% of its value) from the start of the open bathroom policy.

While there has been sector-wide weakness over the past month, the scale of Target's decline strongly suggests that the transgender policy-related consumer boycott is a major factor in its market cap loss.  By comparison, the market cap of primary competitors such as Costco and Walmart has declined only 6.0% and 6.9%, respectively, since April 19.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, before the transgender policy release, 42% of consumers said they would shop at Target.  Within just two weeks of the policy announcement, that percentage had already dropped to just 36%.

Despite the ongoing pressure, Target's CEO says the company will not back down, meaning it could be a long year for the company if the financially powerful conservative consumer base continues to withhold its support as long as the transgender policy remains in place.

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