Target Boosts Its Annual Earnings Forecast as Sales Climb

Target Corp. posted third-quarter results that met analysts’ estimates and raised the low end of its annual profit forecast, citing strength in health products and children’s apparel.

Profit in the third quarter was 86 cents a share, excluding some items, the Minneapolis-based company said Wednesday in a statement. That matched the number predicted by analysts. Comparable-store sales, a closely watched benchmark, rose 1.9 percent. Analysts had been expecting growth of 1.7 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell has refocused the company on its best categories, including apparel, home goods and toys, and exited less successful areas like its pharmacy and Canadian operations. He also has started to update the design of some stores, revamp the entrance areas, add mannequins in clothing departments and change the layout of its home-furnishings section.

The shares gained as much as 4 percent to $75.86 in early trading after the results were released. The stock had been down 4 percent this year before Wednesday.

Target said it now expects earnings of $4.65 to $4.75 a share this year, excluding certain items, compared with a previous forecast of $4.60 to $4.75.

Cost Cuts

Cornell, who took the helm last year, also has been working to slim down operations. The company has said it aims to cut $2 billion in costs during the next two years, including about $500 million in the current year. He’s also worked to rebuild Target’s reputation after a 2013 attack by hackers, who stole the personal information of as many as 110 million customers during the holiday season.

“Our team is focused on strong execution throughout the holidays,” Cornell said in the statement. “We are confident in our merchandising and marketing plans as we enter the most critical season of the year.”

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