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Target ekes out disappointing 0.9% comp in December

BY DSN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS — Despite an easy prior-year comparison, Target fell short of its December same-store sales guidance with a disappointing 0.9% gain.

The company forecasted December comps in the low to mid-single-digit range after it released November results, which saw comps advance 5.5%. Analysts were expecting the company to report a 4% December gain.

“December sales were below expectations, as strength in grocery and apparel was offset by softness in electronics, toys and some home categories. Sales in some key gift-giving categories moved earlier into the holiday season, and lower margin items drove a higher portion of sales than expected,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target chairman, president and CEO.

“Our 5% REDcard Rewards program is delivering the results we expected, and we’re confident that we will continue to generate profitable growth, even while consumer buying patterns exhibit volatility across categories and over time,” Steinhafel said. The rewards program was launched in October and offers members a 5% break on purchases.

Also influencing the small gain was growth in average transaction size, combined with a small increase in comparable-store transactions.

Despite the sales weakness, Steinhafel confirmed the company’s fourth-quarter same-store sales forecast in the range of 2% to 4%. He also said that January comps would be in the low to mid-single digits and affirmed the fourth-quarter profit forecast.

In a statement, the company said the current median First Call estimate of $1.40 for Target’s fourth-quarter earnings per share is a reasonable estimate within a range of possible outcomes, as favorability in the corporation’s credit card segment performance and income tax rate are expected to offset a slight decline in its retail segment EBITDA margin rate.

As for merchandise sales, Target continues to report strong growth of its consumables business as it was busy throughout 2010 expanding those categories and adding fresh products as part of a massive remodeling program called PFresh. As a result, December same-store sales were strongest in grocery, where a low double-digit increase was followed by a mid-single-digit gain in health care and beauty.

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Redbox kicks off movie awards game on Facebook

BY Allison Cerra

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — Redbox, with the help of Orville Redenbacher’s gourmet popping corn, is encouraging Facebook fans to go head-to-head with film critic Richard Roeper to predict this season’s movie award winners.

The Redbox movie awards game allows film enthusiasts to select which movies they believe will win awards during the Critic’s Choice, Golden Globes and Academy Awards ceremonies. Fans can track how well they did and receive virtual prizes based on their activity, such as the "I Beat Richard Roeper" badge and the "Golden Sweep" badge for correctly guessing every top category.

"The Redbox movie awards game brings the excitement of the red carpet to our more than 1.7 million Facebook fans nationwide by celebrating the nation’s top movies and performances of 2010," said Gary Cohen, Redbox’s SVP marketing and customer experience.

Redbox currently features a number of award-nominated titles, including "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Toy Story 3," as well as select 2010 award winners, on DVD and Blu-ray at its kiosks nationwide.

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Once again, Walmart and P&G extend Family Movie Night

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — The latest made-for-TV movie made for Walmart and Procter & Gamble’s Family Movie Night initiative will premiere this weekend on Fox.

"Change of Plans," starring former "American Idol" contestant Brooke White, Joe Flanigan and Phylicia Rashad, will premiere on Jan. 8. The film, which is the fourth installment, builds on the companies’ successful initiative that was launched this past year.

The "Change of Plans" soundtrack includes three songs from White, as well as tracks from various recording artists. The "Change of Plans" DVD and soundtrack will be sold together in a bonus pack exclusively at Walmart.

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