Target Profit Beats Forecasts

Target Corp. (TGT) Thursday posted a bigger-than-expected 50 percent jump in quarterly profit as a hot summer drove demand for clothing and outdoor gear.

The second-largest U.S. discount retailer said it earned $540 million, or 61 cents a share, in the second quarter ended July 30, compared with $360 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 59 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates (search). The company last month raised its forecast to at least 58 cents per share following surprisingly strong June sales.

Last year's results exclude a $1.02 billion gain on the sale of the Marshall Field's (search) department store chain, but include a loss of $74 million, or 5 cents per share, from early retirement of debt.

Quarterly revenues rose 13.6 percent to $11.99 billion, while sales at stores open more than a year — a key retail measure known as same-store sales — rose 6.7 percent.

The retailer, which trails Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) in the U.S. discount sector, has found a niche selling low-priced trendy merchandise by designers including Isaac Mizrahi (search).

Target's same-store sales have been growing faster than Wal-Mart's in recent quarters. Wal-Mart is expected to release its second-quarter results next week.

Target said its credit card business contributed $153 million to earnings before interest and income taxes, up 28 percent from a year earlier