updated 2/17/2005 10:12:00 AM ET 2005-02-17T15:12:00

Target Corp., the nation’s second largest discount retailer, reported slightly higher earnings for the fourth quarter, narrowly beating Wall Street’s expectations and capping a year when profits rose nearly 77 percent.

Target said Thursday it earned $825 million, or 91 cents per share, in the three months ended Jan. 29, up from $823 million, or 90 cents per share, during the year-ago period.

Excluding results from the Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s department store chains that Target sold last year, earnings rose 12 percent.

Without the tax benefits of the department store sales, Target said it earned 90 cents per share — a penny ahead of the consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Revenue was $15.19 billion, up 11.1 percent from $13.68 billion during the same period last year. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 5.4 percent.

For the full year, Target said earnings rose to $3.2 billion, or $3.51 per share from $1.81 billion, or $1.97 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue for the year rose 11.5 percent, from $42.03 billion to $46.84 billion.

Target operates 1,308 Target stores in 47 states, and Target.com.

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