SYDNEY, AAP – Wesfarmers is on course for first-half earnings which will satisfy investors but the coronavirus has crippled Kmart and Target.

The group on Monday reported first-half net profit after tax should fall between $1.18 billion and $1.24 billion, which would meet investors’ expectations. The earnings are due on February 17.

Bunnings and Wesfarmers’ chemicals operations helped earnings, but the coronavirus had a stronger impact on Kmart and Target.

The department stores’ sales for the six months to December 31 were down 10.3 per cent due to onerous virus restrictions affecting trade.

Almost 25 per cent of store trading days were lost due to lockdowns. The department stores were in a greater risk category for coronavirus safety restrictions than Bunnings.

Another contributor was the closure of 62 Target stores, which mostly happened in the previous financial year.

Kmart and Target were also battling workers being away sick with the virus, and supply chain difficulties.

Investors appeared focused on the likely group earnings however.

Wesfarmers shares on the ASX were up 2.07 per cent to $55.12 at 1149 AEDT.