Target Corp. expects its first-quarter earnings to beat analyst estimates because of surprisingly large March sales gains.
The discount chain said Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year rose 10.3 percent in March on growth in clothing sales. The figure is a key measure of retailer performance because it shows growth at existing stores rather than from newly opened ones.
According to Thomson Reuters, analysts predicted the company's sales at stores open at least a year would rise 7.8 percent in the five weeks ending April 3.
Because of the boost, Target expects earnings per share for the quarter ending May 1 to beat analyst estimates by 10 cents.
Analysts predict the company earns 75 cents in the period, according to Thomson. Analysts typically exclude one-time items from their estimates.
For the month, the company's total sales rose 12.5 percent to $6.23 billion.
Target's sales took a hit in the recession as shoppers seeking lower prices turned away from its cheap-chic products. But the company has seen improvement in recent months.
The company is set to release its first-quarter results on May 19.
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