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Target tops earnings view even after earlier increase

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — First-quarter earnings at Target exceeded a profit forecast the company increased last month after a strong start to the quarter.

Sales increased 6.1% to $16.5 billion and same-store sales advanced 5.3%. The sales momentum, combined with rigid expense control, enabled the company to report first-quarter earnings per share of $1.04, which exceeded a guidance range that had been increased to 96 cents to $1.02 from 88 cents to 98 cents in early April, following better-than-expected same-store sales during the first two months of the quarter.

"We’re very pleased with our first quarter earnings, which benefited from better-than-expected sales," said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO. "While our outlook for the remainder of 2012 reflects continued economic uncertainty, we are confident in our strategy, keenly focused on delivering an affordable and inspirational merchandise assortment to our guests and committed to making thoughtful investments in our U.S. and Canadian business segments that we expect will reward our shareholders over time."

The company also exceeded its adjusted earnings forecast, which takes into account expenses incurred in relation to next year’s entry into Canada. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.11 in first quarter, and increase of 11.5% from the 99 cents during the prior year years. The $1.11 figure exceeded guidance of $1.04 to $1.10 that had been increased in early April from a range of 97 cents to $1.07.

Gross margins declined slightly to 30.2% from 30.4% as lower margin food and consumables accounted for a larger percentage of overall sales. The decline was more than offset by a reduction in expense as which declined to 19.9% compared with 20.4% the prior year.

The solid first quarter showing prompted the company to raise its full year earnings forecast by 5 cents to a range of $4.10 to $4.30 or, excluding cost related to Canada, $4.60 to $4.80.

Target ended the first quarter with 1,764 stores.

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Anchor Bay Entertainment releases new ‘Chuggington’ DVD

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Anchor Bay Entertainment is bringing more "Chuggington" adventures to DVD this summer.

"Wilson And The Ice Cream Fair," the latest "Chuggington" DVD, is an all-new episodic collection that stars brave trainee Wilson, who must make a special delivery to the ice cream fair, help Frostini create a new flavor for the mayor’s banquet and help prevent a massive ice cream meltdown on the hottest day of the year. The fun continues when Wilson and friends Brewster and Koko visit the Chuggington ice cream factory, assist with a brave rescue at the Safari Park and embark on a journey to the ice caves. Alongside helpful such chuggers as Old Puffer Pete, and Mtambo, the young trainees discover important lessons about responsibility, cooperation, paying attention, overcoming fear and more.

"’Wilson And The Ice Cream Fair’ is an irresistible new title filled with positive messages for preschoolers and we’re very excited to give fans the opportunity to enjoy this delightful collection of favorite ‘Chuggington’ episodes — just in time to celebrate the start of summer," Anchor Bay Entertainment executive director of brand marketing Erin Carter said.

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Shoppers president to take on new position at Supervalu

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — The president of Shoppers Food and Pharmacy will transition to a new role, parent company Supervalu announced Tuesday.

Tim Lowe, who first joined Supervalu in 2009 as SVP operations at Shoppers until becoming president of the division, will become SVP of Supervalu’s merchandising organization — focusing on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of merchandising while driving execution of national programs — and will transition to the new role over a period of time, the company said. Lowe will report to Supervalu’s EVP merchandising and logistics Janel Haugarth.

"Tim is an energetic and passionate leader who will join an already strong merchandising leadership team," Haugarth said. "His operations and retail leadership experience will enable him to ensure alignment between merchandising and operations, and other functional and store-level groups."

Supervalu said Kevin Holt, the recently named EVP retail operations for the company, will identify a replacement for Lowe at a later date.

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