Updated from 11:23 a.m. EDT

Another round of retail earnings came out Tuesday, as

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

attempted to revive its sagging fortunes, while

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

, with Donny and Marie Osmond as its spokespersons, enjoyed strong sales at its discount division.

J.C. Penney reported earnings on Tuesday that beat Wall Street's expectations by a nickel, as the retailer struggles to remain viable by paying off its debt and closing some stores. As part of its restructuring efforts, the largest general merchandise catalog retailer in the U.S. also said earlier this month that it will sell its direct marketing business.

Meanwhile, Target, formerly known as

Dayton Hudson

, is on the upswing, reporting earnings that rose 23% and surpassed Wall Street's expectations by 3 cents on the back of stronger sales at the company's Target chain of discount stores.

For the first quarter ended April 29, J.C. Penney reported earnings of $132 million, or 28 cents a diluted share. Those figures exclude the effect of $324 million in non-comparable items. Including those items, the retailer reported a net loss of $118 million, or 48 cents a share, down from net income of $167 million, or 61 cents a share a year earlier.

The consensus estimate of analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

was for Penney to earn 23 cents a share in the latest quarter.

Revenue rose to $7.7 billion, from $7.5 billion, a year earlier.

Sales at the company's

Eckerd

unit, the fourth-largest drugstore chain by sales in the U.S., rose 9.4%, to $3.3 billion, from $3 billion a year earlier.

During the quarter, the Plano, Texas-based retailer closed underperforming stores and paid $625 million worth of debt, with plans to redeem $180 million of debt earlier than necessary and to retire $300 million of long-term debt. At the same time, James Oesterreicher, chairman and chief executive of J.C. Penney, reiterated the company's desire to explore a possible sale of its Direct Marketing Services subsidiary.

"We believe that an exploration of strategic alternatives is a logical continuation of our ongoing efforts to focus on our core businesses while at the same time taking actions to unlock value for our stockholders which is not being recognized in our share price," Oesterreicher said in a statement.

Indeed, shares of J.C. Penney have tumbled 58% in the past year. In Tuesday morning trading, they were up 5/8, or 3%, to 19 3/8. (J.C. Penney closed down 3/8, or 2%, at 18 3/8.)

For the first quarter ended April 29, Target's net earnings rose to $239 million, or 52 cents a diluted share, from $194 million, or 41 cents a share a year earlier. The consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial was 49 cents a share.

Revenue at the Minneapolis-based company rose to $7.7 billion from $7.2 billion a year ago, with the biggest surge coming from the Target discount chain, which rose 11.5%, to $6.1 billion from $5.5 billion. But sales fell at both the

Mervyn's

California stores and the department stores, which include Dayton Hudson's and

Marshall Field's

. Mervyn's recorded a 2.3% drop in revenue, to $891 million from $911 million, and the department stores posted a 4% drop, to $73 million from $70 million.

Shares of Target rose 1 3/4, or 2%, to 72 3/4 in Tuesday morning trading. (Target closed up 7/16, or 0.6%, at 71 7/16.)

Other retailers reporting on Tuesday included

Tiffany

(TIF) - Get Report

,

TJX Companies

(TJX) - Get Report

,

Gadzooks

(GADZ)

and

BJ's Wholesale Club

(BJ) - Get Report

, the third-largest membership warehouse club in the U.S. behind

Costco Wholesale

(COST) - Get Report

and

Wal-Mart Store's

(WMT) - Get Report

Sam's Club.

Tiffany said that for the first quarter ended April 30, net profit rose to $30.4 million, or 40 cents a diluted share, from $16.2 million, or 22 cents a share a year earlier, three cents above the consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. The earnings per share figure for the year before is adjusted to reflect a two-for-one stock split in July 1999.

Net sales rose to $343.3 million from $272.3 million a year ago, with U.S. retail sales logging 28% growth to $169.2 million, international sales rising 26% to $147.4 million and direct marketing sales posting 15% growth to $26.6 million. International sales were boosted by 15% growth in Japan, Tiffany's largest international market.

The New York-based luxury retailer, best known for its fine jewelry which accounts for more than 70% of the company's sales, also reported same-store sales growth of 28% for the quarter. However, new store sales were offset by the company's decision in January to stop selling its products through independent jewelers and department stores.

Shares of Tiffany fell 7/16, or 1%, to 74 3/4 in midday Tuesday trading. (Tiffany closed down 2 1/4, or 3%, at 72 15/16.)

TJX Companies, owner of top off-price chains

T.J. Maxx

and

Marshalls

, came in a penny ahead of expectations Tuesday after releasing its first quarter earnings.

For the first quarter ended April 29, net income rose to $130.6 million, or 44 cents a diluted share, from $122.3 million, or 38 cents a share a year earlier, a penny above the consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. The year-ago figures have not been adjusted for a change in the way the company accounts for layaway sales.

Revenue at the Framingham, Mass.-based retailer rose to $2.1 billion from $1.9 billion a year ago, slightly below the company's sales goal. Edmond English, president and chief executive of TJX, blamed the shortfall on the "adverse weather conditions" in a statement.

Shares of TJX rose 7/8, or 4%, to 20 3/8 in midday Tuesday trading. (TJX closed up 1/2, or 3%, at 20.)

Gadzook's, a teenage apparel retailer found in malls, said its earnings rose to $2.5 million, or 27 cents a diluted share, from $600,000, or 7 cents a diluted share, a year earlier, six cents more than expected by analysts. Net sales rose to $63.2 million from $51.5 million a year ago.

For the first quarter ended April 29, BJ's, based in Natick, Mass., said that earnings rose to $18.1 million, or 24 cents a diluted share, from $14.4 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier, beating analyst expectations by a penny. Total revenue, including sales and membership fees, rose to $1.0 billion from $879.7 million a year ago.

Shares of Dallas-based Gadzook's increased 1 9/16, or 7%, to 23 3/16 in Tuesday morning trading, while shares of BJ's fell 3/4, or 2%, to 32 3/4. (Gadzook's closed up 1 5/8, or 8%, at 23 1/8 while BJ's closed up 3/16, or 0.6%, at 33 11/16.)