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Target Cuts Outlook After Dec. Misses Expectations

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Target shopping carts sit in the parking lot outside of a Target store in Daly City, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Target shopping carts sit in the parking lot outside of a Target store in Daly City, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Target lowered its earnings expectations Thursday following a disappointing December, with consumers waiting until the last minute to shop as well as weak sales of electronics.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has also come on strong, forcing prices lower at the expense of competitors.

Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 1.6 percent. That missed analyst expectations for a 3.1 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters. Target’s stock fell 3.4 percent, or $1.70, to $48.30 in afternoon trading.

Revenue at stores open at least a year is considered a key measure of a retailer’s financial health because it excludes volatility from stores that open or close.

Strong grocery and beauty product sales offset weakness in electronics, movies, books and music, the company said. In addition, sales and traffic were stronger in the week before Christmas thanks to last-minute shopping.

Total revenue for the five weeks ended Dec. 31 rose 2.6 percent to $10.14 billion.

The company now expects fourth-quarter earnings of $1.35 to $1.43 per share. That compares with prior guidance of $1.34 to $1.53 per share. Analysts had $1.48 per share.

Target Corp., based in Minneapolis, expects revenue in stores open at least a year to rise in the low- to mid-single digit percentage range.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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