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Target Sees Quarterly Profit Rise

Fourth-quarter earnings per share rise 22%.

Before the market opened Tuesday,


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reported a 22% year-over-year increase in fourth-quarter earnings per share.

The discount retail chain generated net earnings of $1.1 billion, or $1.29 a share, in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, a 14-week period, compared with $939 million, or $1.06 a share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28, 2006, a 13-week period. Analysts were looking for earnings of $1.27 a share, according to the Thomson First Call consensus estimate.

Quarterly revenue ratcheted up 16.3% to $19.7 billion from $16.9 billion in the prior-year period, driven in part by the extra week of sales, the contribution from new-store expansion and the contribution from its credit card operations. Analysts were looking for quarterly revenue of $19.5 billion.

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Comparable-store sales increased 4.8% both during the quarter and during the full year.

For the full fiscal year 2006, a 53-week period, net earnings were $2.8 billion, or $3.21 a share, compared with $2.4 billion, or $2.71 a share, in fiscal 2005, a 52-week period.

Revenue increased 13.1% to $59.5 billion in fiscal 2006 from $52.6 billion in 2005. Comparable-store sales increased 4.8% during the year.

Analysts were expecting full-year earnings of $3.18 on $59.3 billion in revenue.

"We are pleased with our performance in 2006, which reflects the strength of our strategic direction and disciplined execution," said CEO Bob Ulrich.

Shares of Target were trading down 55 cents, or 0.9%, at $62 in trading ahead of the opening bell and the Minneapolis-based company's conference call.