Target Earnings Top Estimates as Retailer Anticipates Strong Holiday Season

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Target Earnings Top EstimatesTarget (TGT) reported Wednesday morning that net earnings grew 22.6% in the third quarter, beating estimates, as sales rose 3% and the company got a boost from its credit card business. The company also said it expects fourth quarter comparable sales to be better than they've been for any period in the past three years.

For the quarter that ended Oct. 30, Target earned $535 million, or 71 cents per share, compared with $436 million, or 58 cents per share in the same period last year. Results topped analyst expectations of 68 cents per share.

Sales increased 3% in the third quarter to $15.2 billion -- in line with analysts' estimates -- from $14.8 billion in the 2009 quarter, due to a 1.6% increase in comparable-store sales (for stores open at least one year), combined with the contribution from new stores. Last year, comparable sales declined 1.6%.

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"We're pleased with Target's third quarter financial performance, and we are well-positioned for the fourth quarter," said Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

For the critical fourth quarter holiday season, Target hopes to lure in customers with its REDcard rewards program, which will offer users a 5% discount on all purchases.

"We've built our holiday season plans to create excitement and provide our guests unbeatable value," Steinhafel says. "Based on our merchandising and marketing plans, combined with the expected impact of REDcard rewards and our newly completed remodel program, we expect Target's fourth quarter comparable-store performance will be the best of any quarter in the last three years."

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