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Target Shares Gain on December Sales Results (TGT)

Shares of Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT), the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based retailer, rose sharply in trading on Thursday after the company reported its sales results for the month of December.

For the five-week period ended December 29, 2012, Target reported net sales of $10,214 million, up from $10,138 million reported for the five-week period ended December 31, 2011. The company’s comparable store sales for December were essentially flat.

Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO of Target, said that December sales were slightly below the company’s expectations as strong results in the month did not completely offset softness in the first three weeks. Steinhafel noted that similar to November, profitability for December benefited from the company’s continued focus on achieving an appropriate balance between price investments and driving sales, combined with thoughtful inventory management, and as a result the company expects fourth-quarter 2012 earnings to meet or somewhat exceed the low-end of the company’s prior guidance.

At the time of the release of third-quarter results, TGT had said it expected fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share to be between $1.64 and $1.74. GAAP earnings per share for the quarter are expected to be between $1.45 and $1.55.

Steinhafel said that in 2013, the company will continue to focus on profitability growing its market share by combining unique merchandise, convenience, value and an unbeatable guest experience across its stores, online and mobile channels.

TGT shares rose sharply on Thursday, ending the day 2.28% higher at $60.16 on above average volume of 9.71 million. The stock hit an intra-day high of $60.78 on Thursday.

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