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Gap Q4 profit beats forecasts

BY CSA STAFF

San Fransciso — Gap credited rising sales abroad, online and at its Banana Republic and Old Navy chains for helping to boost its fourth-quarter net income rise 3.7%, beating analysts expectations. However, the chain issued an annual profit forecast that fell short of expectations, saying its operating profits would be squeezed as it grapples with soaring costs of cotton and other raw materials.

Gap also announced that it plans to buy back $2 billion in shares, on top of recent repurchases totaling $2.6 billion.

The retailer reported quarterly net income of $365 million, compared with $352 million. Revenue rose 3% to $4.36 billion. Overall same-store sales were flat.

In the company’s struggling namesake Gap division in North America, same-store sales fell 2%. The figure has been falling on an annual basis for the brand since 2005.

Same-store sales rose 1% at Banana Republic’s and Old Navy’s domestic divisions.

Chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said during a conference call with investors Thursday that all three brands need to improve in North America.

The company has been expanding globally, adding its first stores in China and Italy last year and it now sells its merchandise online in more than 90 countries. It also is continuing to remodel Old Navy stores with the goal of having nearly 400 in a new format by year’s end.

The company plans to open about 50 company-owned stores abroad, including units in China and Italy. On the domestic front, Gap’s plans include adding eight to 10 Athleta stores in North America by the end of the year.

The company said it earned $1.2 billion overall for the full year, compared with $1.1 billion the year before.

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Target looks to top $100 billion sales mark boosted by Canada stores revenue

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Target Corp. said its annual sales may top $100 billion within the next seven years, with revenue boosted by its first expansion outside the United States, Bloomberg reported.

The chain also may double earnings per share over that period, CFO Douglas Scovanner said Thursday on a conference call after fourth-quarter results. Net income in the period ended Jan. 29 rose 11% to $1.04 billion.

Target plans to open stores in Canada as of 2013. The expansion, coupled with Target’s new rewards program and the introduction of more fresh food, may help the chain overcome a “persistently weak” U.S. discount market, Scovanner said.

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GNC profit leaps 56% in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Pittsburgh — General Nutrition Centers reported Friday that net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 surged 56.3% to $19.8 million, compared with $12.7 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue for the quarter rose 7.9% to $435.7 million, from $403.9 million a year earlier. Same-store sales improved 5.8% in domestic company-owned stores (including e-commerce sales).

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