By selling its waning department store divisions, Target ( TGT) will finally be free of two monkeys on its back, a move most on Wall Street have applauded with great vigor. But once the divestitures are complete, can the lone Target division live up to the castle in the sky that analysts have built for it? The going thesis is that once independent of its Mervyn's and Marshall Field's units, Target can more easily focus on its core division's differentiated discount store concept and deliver solid earnings growth. But at least one analyst believes the Street is being too optimistic and that a standalone Target isn't as big a growth machine as many assume. "By creating a single unit company, investors will be able to see once and for all the remarkably inconsistent results Target stores register, and the company's continued inability to flourish in the face of even mildly difficult comparisons," said Eric Beder, a senior equity analyst at J.B. Hanauer & Co. in a Friday research note. Target announced Thursday it will sell off the remainder of its Mervyn's unit as an ongoing business to an investor group for about $1.65 billion in cash. Included in the sale are 257 stores in 13 states, four distribution centers and $475 million worth of credit card receivables. The investors are Sun Capital Partners, Cerberus Capital Management and Lubert-Adler/Klaff and Partners. General Electric's ( GE) consumer finance division will buy Mervyn's credit card accounts. A month earlier, Target said it would sell its 62-store Marshall Field's chain, three distribution centers and $600 million in credit card receivables to May Department Stores ( MAY) for $3.2 billion. Mervyn's and Marshall Field's have been a drag on Target for years. In 2003, Mervyn's pretax earnings fell 32.6% to $160 million on a 6.9% drop in sales, while Marshall Field's pretax profit dropped 21.1% to $107 million on a 2.6% decrease in sales, according to Target's financial statements.