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Target reports quarterly earnings growth

MINNEAPOLIS Target reported net earnings of $679 million for the quarter ended July 31, compared with $594 million in the quarter ended Aug. 1, 2009. Earnings per diluted share in the second quarter increased 17% to 92 cents from 79 cents in the same period a year ago.

"Our retail segment generated strong profitability, overcoming softer-than-expected sales," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Target. "Growth in guest traffic and apparel sales remained robust, and teams across the company continued to exercise thoughtful control of expenses. Our credit card segment also enjoyed very strong results, as disciplined underwriting, superb execution and improving risk trends caused a sharp reduction in bad debt expense compared with last year. Regardless of the pace of recovery, we are well-positioned to continue to gain profitable market share."

Sales for the retail segment increased 3.8% in the second quarter to $15.1 billion in 2010 from $14.6 billion in 2009, due to the contribution from new stores combined with a 1.7% increase in comparable-store sales.

Second quarter credit card segment profit increased to $149 million from $63 million a year ago, as bad debt expense declined 54.5% from $303 million in second quarter 2009 to $138 million this year.