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Target Corp. (TGT) posted stronger-than-expected holiday sales Thursday and said it would see double-digit adjusted earnings growth for its fiscal year.

Target said same store sales for the two months ending in December rose 5.7%, well ahead of the 3.4% pace recorded over the same period last year. Target said full fiscal year earnings should come in between $5.30 and $5.50 per share, compared to a Street consensus of $5.39, with fourth quarter comparable revenues rising 5%. 

"We are very pleased with Target's holiday season performance, which came on top of really strong results in the same period last year," said CEO Brian Cornell. "This performance demonstrates the benefit of placing our stores at the center of every way we serve our guests, including both in-store shopping and digital fulfillment."

"Given our fourth quarter outlook, we are on track to deliver Target's strongest full-year comparable sales growth since 2005, market-share gains across all of our core merchandising categories, and double digit growth in Adjusted EPS," he added. "In 2019, we expect to build on this momentum as we gain further scale in our fulfillment capabilities and deliver profitable growth throughout the year."

Target shares fell 2.9% after disappointing sector earnings from Kohl's Corp. (KSS) and Macy's Inc. (M)  dragged stocks across the retail sector sharply lower.

U.S retail sales rose by a stronger-than-expected 0.9% in November, the Commerce Department said last month, after an upwardly revised 0.7% increase in October, and data Adobe Analytics suggests 2018 online holiday spending topped a record $126 billion.

Target also said Cathy Smith will retire as company CFO, and move to an advisory role within the group from May 2020.

"I'm proud of the team's accomplishments and all the progress we've made. I am excited about what is in store for Target and myself as I plan for retirement, including freeing up more time for my family," Smith said. "As we look ahead to 2019, Target is in a position of strength and poised to continue building on its momentum."