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Target Misses Top Line Mark

The retailer beat Wall Street's earnings estimate on slipping sales and profit.


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posted drops in comparable store sales and profit in the first quarter, continuing a recent trend for retailers.

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based retailer earned $602 million, or 74 cents a share, falling from a year-ago profit of $651 million, or 75 cents a share. Still, results beat the Thomson Reuters average estimate for a profit of 71 cents a share.

Overall sales grew 5% from last year to $14.3 billion, although comparable store sales slipped 0.7% compared to a year ago. Wall Street had expected Target to post revenue of $14.9 billion in the quarter. Despite the miss, shares of Target were tacking on 34 cents, or 0.6%, to $55.26 after the opening bell.

"Our first quarter earnings per share met our expectations despite softer-than-expected sales performance," President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement. "Though the current economic environment remains challenging, we will continue to generate long-term value for our shareholders by remaining focused on the disciplined execution of our strategy

Target also said it closed a transaction to sell an undivided interest in roughly 47% of its credit card receivables to

JPMorgan Chase

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, a deal that will net the retailer $3.6 billion in cash.

The company also said that In the first quarter, under the share repurchase program announced in November 2007, Target repurchased approximately 30.5 million shares of its common stock for a total investment of approximately $1.6 billion.

Steinhafel said that Target shareholders "will benefit over time from our significant share repurchase activity and the unique relationship that has been created through this innovative agreement with JPMorgan Chase."

The retailer

did not provide guidance

for the second quarter or full year in its release. The company has a conference call for analysts scheduled for later Tuesday. A poll by Thomson Reuters shows that Wall Street expects Target to report earnings around $3.48 a share, although that number has dropped 1% over the last month as analysts have ratcheted back expectations.

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slipping first-quarter comparable store sales and profit on Tuesday.

Last week,


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put the blame for its dim second-quarter forecast on higher transportation and utility costs, as well as the usual culprit of uncertain economic conditions. This came even as the world's largest retailer reported a first-quarter profit of 76 cents, which was a penny better than expectations.

If the signs of weakness out of Wal-Mart weren't enough to sink optimism, in the last few days retailers


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J.C. Penney

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have also had a part in disappointing Wall Street with grim forecasts for the coming quarters.