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Target quarterly earnings up 30%

MINNEAPOLIS Target reported net earnings of $671 million for the quarter ended May 1, compared with $522 million in the quarter ended May 2, 2009. Earnings per share in the first quarter increased 30% to 90 cents from 69 cents in the same period a year ago. According to the company, this was the highest EPS from continuing operations in Target’s history, excluding holiday-driven fourth quarter results. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted earnings per share.

“We’re very pleased with our first quarter financial results, which were the result of disciplined execution by our teams in a stronger-than-expected economic environment,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and CEO of Target. “Our retail segment delivered results well above our expectations, as sales of higher margin discretionary items were particularly strong, especially in apparel. Profitability in our credit card segment was also well above expectations, as declining risk levels led to a sharp reduction in bad debt expense compared with a year ago. Going forward, we will continue our relentless focus on delighting our guests by delivering the right fashion, great quality at low prices, and a superior guest experience in our stores and online.”

Sales increased 5.5% in the first quarter to $15.2 billion in 2010 from $14.4 billion in 2009, due to a 2.8% increase in comparable-store sales and the contribution from new stores.