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Target Corp. earnings climb 6% to $254M

MINNEAPOLIS — Boosted by continued strength at its core Target Stores chain, and getting a modest lift from an earnings rebound at Mervyn's, first-quarter profits at Target Corp. rose by 6.2 percent, to $254 million from $239 million last year.

Sales at the diversified retail chain rose by 7.7 percent, to $8.2 billion from $7.6 billion last year, with Target Stores the only gainer, with a solid 10.7 percent increase. Both Mervyn's and Marshall Field's posted declines, down 2.0 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

The big money market in a straitened retail environment remains the core Target Store business, where pre-tax profits climbed by 7.7 percent, to $502 million from $467 million. Despite the lower level of sales, Mervyn's managed to boost its pre-tax profit by 3.9 percent, to $48 million form $46 million a year ago. But Marshall Field's, like most American department stores, was hard hit in the currently weak retail environment, its pre-tax profits falling by 20.7 percent, to $23 million from $29 million.

Putting modest pressure on the bottom line, average gross margin narrowed by 30 basis points, to 31.4% from 31.7% a year ago. But given the higher level of sales, gross margin dollars still moved up by 7.7 percent, to $8.3 million from $7.7 million.

Despite the current slowdown, ceo Robert Ulrich said he's confident the company can meet scaled-back targets for this year, and is buoyant about Target's long-term earnings prospects. "We remain comfortable that we are well positioned to meet near-term economic and competitive challenges and deliver reasonable growth in earnings per share for the full year. Over the long-term, we remain confident in our ability to achieve average annual earnings per share growth of 15 percent or more."

Segment Sales and Pre-Tax Profits

Sales 2001 2000 % Change
Target $6,771 $6,115 10.7
Mervyn's 873 891 -2.0
Marshall Field's 639 667 -4.2
Same-Store Sales
Target NA NA 2.8
Mervyn's NA NA -1.6
Marshall Field's NA NA -4.2
Pre-Tax Profits
Target 502 467 7.7
Mervyn's 48 46 3.9
Marshall Field's 23 29 20.7

Target Corp.

Qtr. 5/5 (x000) 2001 2000 %CHG
a-Net retail sales, excluding credit revenues. Total revenues, including credit revenues, were $8.3 billion, up 7.7 percent from $7.7 billion. Average gross margin and the expense ratio are calculated as a percentage of net retail sales.
Sales $8,197,000a $7,613,000a 7.7
Oper. income (EBIT) 516,000 485,000 6.4
Net income 254,000 239,000 6.2
Per share (diluted) 0.28 0.26 7.7
Average gross margin 31.4% 31.7%
SG&A expenses 23.8% 24.1%

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