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MINNEAPOLIS-Target posted strong sales and earnings gains during its third quarter, but executives say they don’t expect to replicate those numbers in the current financial period. Specifically, officials say profit margins won’t be as wide during the company’s Q4 due to strong holiday competition and markdowns.

Year-over-year same-store sales jumped 5.9% during the quarter, which ended Oct. 29, and revenues rose 11.9%, to $12.2 billion. Earnings from continuing operations increased 31.2%, to $831 million.

For the fourth quarter, executives plan on a 4% to 6% same-store sales gain, as well as low double-digit total sales growth. Earnings per share are projected to rise to the mid teens.

In response to an analyst question, Target president Gregg Steinhafel said that his company isn’t following the way of other companies. Rather, Target started holiday sales efforts earlier in the year. “We’re very focused on driving results in the last five weeks of the season,” he said. Besides the usual holiday gifts like electronics, Target will promote pre-made turkey and ham dinners in its stores.

During the quarter the company opened 33 discount stores and 16 SuperTarget units, bringing its total to 1,400 total stores, 158 of them SuperTargets. Target stores in the Southeast sustained $20 million in damages in its Q3 due to the recent hurricanes in that part of the country.

Target is also upping the $3-billion share repurchase program it launched in June, boosting it to $5 billion.

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