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MINNEAPOLIS-Target Corp. reported earnings of $494 million, or 55 cents per diluted share for the first quarter ending April 30, compared with $392 million, or 43 cents per diluted share in the first quarter ended May 1, 2004.

“We are pleased with our first quarter results,” said Bob Ulrich, chairman and chief executive officer. “Our performance reflects our discipline in executing our strategy and our success in delighting our guests with the right combination of innovation, design and value.”

Total revenues in the first quarter increased 12.7% to $11.5 billion from $10.2 billion in 2004, driven by a 6.2% increase in comparable store sales combined with the contribution from new store expansion and credit card operations.

For the quarter, earnings before interest and income taxes (EBIT) increased 17.4% to $907 million, compared with $773 million in the first quarter 2004. The contribution from the company’s credit card operations to EBIT was $142 million, an increase of $31 million, or 27.9%.

Net interest expense for the quarter decreased $32 million compared with first quarter 2004. Ulrich said the decrease was the result of lower average balances from Mervyn’s and Marshall Field’s sale transactions, partially offset by a higher average portfolio interest rate.

In June 2004, the company announced a $3 billion share repurchase program. Under this program, the company repurchased $453 million of its common stock during the first quarter of 2005, acquiring 9.2 million shares at an average price of $49.4 per share. Program to-date, the company has acquired 37.7 million shares of its common stock at an average price per share of $45.89, reflecting a total investment of approximately $1.7 billion. At quarter-end, the company operated 1,330 Target stores in 47 states.

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