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Target Sales Jump 11.1%

Minneapolis — Strong growth and continued market share gains were heralded by retailer Target, which posted an 11.1 percent rise in fiscal fourth quarter sales, to $14.9 billion, from a year-ago $13.4 billion. Comp-store sales for the quarter rose 5.4 percent.

However, fourth quarter net income was flat at Target, coming in at $825 million, inching up from a year-earlier $823 million. Although the retailer cited a slight improvement in gross margin during the fourth quarter, year-on-year, primarily due to an increase in markup, this was partially offset by higher markdowns. Expense rate in the fourth quarter was deemed unfavorable compared, with the prior year, primarily due to lease accounting adjustments, partially offset by expense rate favorability in other areas.

In the 12 months, Target sales jumped 11.6 percent, hitting $45.7 billion, from a year-earlier $40.9 billion. The increase was driven by a comp-store rise of 5.3 percent, combined with the contribution from new store expansion and the company’s credit card operations.

Net income for the 12 months was $3.2 billion, up 76.7 percent from the $1.8 billion recorded in 2003. However, much of this increase can be attributed to Target’s reported gain of $1.2 billion, related to the sales of the Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s divisions in 2004.