updated 5/23/2007 10:25:49 AM ET 2007-05-23T14:25:49

Discount retailer Target Corp. said Wednesday its first-quarter profit rose almost 18 percent, although revenue was just shy of analyst expectations.

The nation's second-largest discount retailer said it earned $651 million, or 75 cents per share, during the quarter that ended May 5, up from $554 million, or 63 cents per share, during the quarter ending April 29 last year. Revenue of $14.04 billion was up 9 percent from $12.86 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting profits of 71 cents per share on revenue of $14.17 billion.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key retail measure, rose 4.3 percent. Earlier this spring Target made some investors nervous when it reported that same-store sales dropped 6.1 percent for April because an earlier Easter pushed sales back into March. But results for February and March were strong.

"Our overall performance reinforces our confidence in our ability to continue to generate profitable market share growth for the full year 2007 and many years to come," said Target Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Ulrich.

Target said its credit card contributed $143 million in pretax earnings, up $25 million, or 20.6 percent, from a year ago. It said the increase was due to an increase in interest income.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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