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Gap Falls as Murphy Trumpets Global Growth Plans

Murphy spoke of the opportunities in North America for its acquired brands - Athleta, Piperlime and Intermix.

"Athleta was a catalog business," Murphy says. "Of course we liked because it was a brand in a different category and had a great team and marketing, however it had a wall that it hit."

"It needed a lot of support," but the company has the potential to rise to the same scale as Banana Republic and Old Navy, he said.

The Gap has also acquired two additional businesses - Piperlime and Intermix. Piperlime, he said, needed stores while Intermix needed an e-commerce platform to frow sales.

Last week, the apparel company said March 2013 net sales rose 7% compared to the year-earlier period. Net sales for the five-week period ended April 6, 2013 were $1.56 billion compared to $1.46 billion for the five-week period ended March 31, 2012.

Global comparable sales by brand for last month were as follows:
Gap: flat versus 7% growth last year
Banana Republic: 1% growth versus 5% growth last year
Old Navy: 2% contraction versus 11% growth last year

In other retail related news, Target (TGT - Get Report) dropped its first-quarter guidance due to seasonal weakness and weather-related instability - a theme cited by other retailers reporting March sales.

The Minneapolis-based discount retailer said Tuesday that it expects comparable-store sales growth in the first quarter to be flat "due to softer-than-expected sales trends particularly in seasonal and weather-sensitive categories across the store."

Target expects first-quarter adjusted earnings per share to be "slightly below" the low end of its prior guidance of $1.10-$1.20 per share. First quarter GAAP EPS is expected to be 28 cents lower than adjusted EPS from losses related to the early retirement of debt, share dilution related to the Canadian segment countered by net gains associated with the sale of its credit card receivables portfolio to TD Bank (TD), the company said.

Analysts had expected the company would post quarterly earnings of 96 cents per share, according to the Associated Press.

Target reports first-quarter earnings on May 22.

Target shares were rising 0.5% most recently to $68.74. Shares of Gap were most recently falling 1.6% to $37.16.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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