Twitter owner Elon Musk over the weekend expressed confidence on his social networking site that investors will start taking aim at Target with class-action lawsuits. The company's value has sunk more than $15 billion since its recent LGBTQ Pride clothing collection sparked intense backlash and calls for a boycott.
The New York Post reported on Monday that Musk's comments last Friday were in response to a June 1 tweet from conservative commentator Charlie Kirk, who wrote: "BREAKING: JP Morgan just downgraded Target's stock, after its longest losing streak in 23 years citing 'too many concerns rising.'"
"Happy Pride Month Target!" Kirk's tweet concluded.
Kirk's comments were in reaction to JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest bank in the U.S., downgrading Target's stock from overweight to neutral earlier that day, citing recent "controversies" that involved the company — most notably, the release of its Pride collection.
Musk replied to Kirk's tweet with one of his own on Friday, in which he wrote, "Won't be long before there are class-action lawsuits by shareholders against the company and board of directors for destruction of shareholder value."
Kirk shortly followed up Musk's prediction by encouraging investors to act: "97% of Americans would prefer depoliticized corporations to the hyperpolitical ones of today. Shareholders should organize to make this happen."
Target's ongoing financial and public image problems have only worsened since last month's release of its 2023 Pride collection, which included swimsuits — some seemingly designed for children — with "tuck-friendly construction" and "extra crotch coverage."
Amid public outrage and growing threats to Target employees, the company decided to remove some of its Pride merchandise. According to a May 24 statement from Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda, "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."
Many believe Target's action was too little, too late, however. Over the past month, the Minneapolis, Minn.-based company's shares have nosedived 20% since mid-May, accounting for a loss of $15 billion in revenue. The Post reported that Target's losses are believed to be a mix of the backlash caused by its controversial Pride collection and investor concerns about inflation's impact on shoppers.
Target's troubles went from bad to worse over the weekend. Fox News reported Monday that the company had donated an as-yet unknown sum of money to an Indigenous-led nonprofit calling for the demilitarization of the U.S. military and the shutdown of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, among other causes.
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