Target Reports Higher Sales Earnings

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Minneapolis - Target reported higher net earnings and sales in its fiscal first quarter, ended April 28.

Net earnings were $697 million, up 1.2 percent from the previous year, and net sales were $16.5 billion, up 6.1 percent.

"We're very pleased with our first-quarter earnings, which benefited from better-than-expected sales," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target. "While our outlook for the remainder of 2012 reflects continued economic uncertainty, we are confident in our strategy, keenly focused on delivering an affordable and inspirational merchandise assortment to our guests, and committed to making thoughtful investments in our U.S. and Canadian business segments that we expect will reward our shareholders over time."

In its U.S. retail segment, sales increased 6.1 percent in the first quarter to $16.5 billion in 2012, from $15.6 billion in 2011, due to a 5.3 percent increase in comp-store sales and the contribution from new stores. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT) were $1,199 million in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 12.9 percent from $1,062 million in 2011.

First-quarter 2012 U.S. retail segment EBITDA and EBIT margin rates were 10.3 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, compared with 10.1 percent and 6.8 percent in 2011. First-quarter gross margin rate declined to 30.2 percent in 2012, from 30.4 percent in 2011, reflecting downward pressure from the company's integrated growth strategies partially offset by a beneficial mix of higher-margin sales and underlying rate improvements within categories.

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