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Home Gained Modestly As Target Struggled Ahead In Q4

Target Corp. today reported fourth quarter net earnings of $961 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, versus $981 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, in the 2011 period, and full-year net earnings of $3 billion, or $4.52 per diluted share, versus $2.93 billion, or $4.28 per share, in fiscal 2011. Adjusted earnings per diluted share for operations in the United States were $1.65 in fourth quarter, up 10.1% from $1.49 in the 2011 period, the retailer said, while full-year adjusted earnings per share were $4.76, up 7.9% from $4.41 in annum earlier.

Target’s fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share beat a Thomson Reuter’s consensus analyst estimate of $1.48.

Comparable store sales increased by 0.4% in the fourth quarter. In a conference call, Kathee Tesija, Target’s executive vp/merchandising, said home department comps grew in line with the company average, but she added that the category was among those that experienced “rapid growth in our digital channels.”

“We’re pleased with Target’s fourth quarter performance, particularly in the face of a highly promotional retail environment and continued consumer uncertainty,” said Gregg Steinhafel,  Target chairman, president, and CEO. “Outstanding discipline and execution by our team allowed us to achieve our full-year financial and strategic goals in 2012. We believe these results position us well to deliver on significant plans in 2013, including completion of the largest store opening program in our company’s history with 124 stores in Canada and additional Target and CityTarget locations in the U.S., investing in new processes and technology that will improve our guests’ multichannel experience, and closing the sale of our credit card receivables.”

Fourth quarter 2012 Target sales in the United State increased 6.8% to $22.4 billion compared with the year earlier period. In addition to comparable store sales, revenues from new stores and one additional accounting week in the quarter contributed to the sales increase. Fourth quarter gross margin rate declined to 27.8% in 2012 from 28.4% in last year’s period, reflecting the effects of the company’s integrated growth strategies combined with the impact of markdowns on seasonal merchandise, Target stated.

Full-year 2012 sales increased 5.1% to $72 billion, reflecting a 2.7% comp combined with the contribution from new stores and the additional accounting week, the company said.