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Target profit climbs as customer traffic increases

Associated Press

Minneapolis — Target says its sales rose 1.9 percent at established locations in the third quarter, marking the fourth consecutive quarter the retailer has increased customer visits.

Looking ahead to the critical holiday shopping season, CEO Brain Cornell also said the company is confident about its plans. The Minneapolis-based company issued a rosier earnings outlook for the year.

A day earlier, Wal-Mart also reported stronger-than-expected sales for its third quarter and said it expected an uptick in sales for the holidays.

Target Corp.’s encouraging results come after Cornell took over as chief executive last year. The company was once the discount industry’s darling by pioneering the idea of trendy fashions for affordable prices. But the company lost customers during the recession after focusing too much on expanding everyday grocery items like milk.

For the three months ended Oct. 31, Target said its sales were drive by strength in signature categories including style, baby, kids and wellness.

Profit rose to $549 million, or 87 cents per share in the period. Not including one-time items, the company earned 86 cents per share, which was in line with Wall Street expectations, according to 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $17.61 billion. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $17.63 billion.

Target expects adjusted earnings of $4.65 to $4.75 per share for the full year. It previously forecast a range of $4.60 to $4.75 per share.

Target shares slipped a penny to $72.90 on premarket trading. It shares have declined 4 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has stayed nearly flat. The stock has climbed roughly 9 percent in the last 12 months.