TARGET BEATS HOLIDAY SALES GROWTH ESTIMATES
Target Corp. posted holiday sales growth that topped analysts’ estimates, boosted by a surge in online orders, though the retailer’s heavy reliance on discounts took a toll on profit during the season. Same- store sales gained 1.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, the Minneapolis-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts had predicted 1.5 per cent, according to Consensus Metrix. But Target’s gross profit margin slipped to 27.9 per cent from 28.5 per cent a year earlier, a decline the retailer attributed to “invest- ments in promotions.” Target got more aggressive with holiday discounts this past season, aiming to take market share from Wal- Mart Stores Inc. and other rivals. It cut prices on categories like toys and offered free shipping to online customers. Excluding some items, earnings per share were $ 1.52 in the period, which ended Jan. 30. Analysts had estimated $ 1.54 a share on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Target shares closed up four per cent at US$76.95 on Wednesday.