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Investors urge Target to look at political giving

BY CSA STAFF

Minneapolis Shareholders of Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. on Thursday called on both retailers to review their political donations.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management Corp., both of Boston, and Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert Asset Management Co. filed shareholder resolutions with Target and Best Buy. Together, the three firms control less than 1% of each company’s outstanding shares.

Target gave $150,000 and Best Buy gave $100,000 to a business-focused political fund helping a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, triggering a national backlash from gay rights groups and liberals. The companies made the donations after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling freed them to spend corporate funds on elections. The candidate, state legislator Tom Emmer, opposes gay marriage and other rights for same-sex couples.

“A good corporate political contribution policy should prevent the kind of debacle Target and Best Buy walked into,” said Trillium VP Shelley Alpern. “We expect companies to evaluate candidates based upon the range of their positions — not simply one area — and assess whether they are in alignment with their core values. But these companies’ policies are clearly lacking that.”

The Target resolution urges the board to review the effect of future political contributions on the company’s public image, sales and profitability and to consider the cost of backing a candidate whose politics conflict with the company’s public stances.

The three investment companies together submitted the resolution to Target, while Calvert and Trillium filed the Best Buy shareholder proposal.

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Staples quarterly sales flat

BY CSA STAFF

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Staples announced that company sales of $5.5 billion for the second quarter of 2010 were flat compared with the second quarter of 2009. Net income for the second quarter of 2010 increased 40% year over year to $130 million, and diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, increased 38% 18 cents from the 13 cents achieved in the second quarter of 2009.

“Staples continues to deliver strong earnings growth in a challenging sales environment,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re seeing good progress in our initiatives to grow technology, copy and print, and facilities supplies.”

 

North American retail sales for the second quarter of 2010 were $2 billion, an increase of 2% in U.S. dollars and flat in local currency compared with the second quarter of 2009, Staples said. Comparable-store sales for the second quarter of 2010 were flat versus the second quarter of 2009, reflecting increased customer traffic, offset by lower average order size.

North American delivery sales for the second quarter of 2010 were $2.4 billion, an increase of 2% in U.S. dollars and 1% in local currency compared with the second quarter of 2009, the company reported.

 

 

International sales for the second quarter of 2010 were $1.2 billion, a decrease of 6% in U.S. dollars and 2% in local currency compared with the second quarter of 2009.

For the third quarter of 2010, the company expects sales to increase in the low single-digits compared with the third quarter of 2009. The company expects to achieve diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, in the range of 38 cents to 40 cents for the third quarter of 2010.

For the full year 2010, the company expects total company sales to increase in the low single-digits compared with the full year 2009. Including the impact of the higher tax rate, the company expects to achieve diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, in the range of $1.20 to $1.24 for the full year 2010.

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Gap Inc. reports EPS growth

BY CSA STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO Gap Inc. reported earnings per share for the second quarter, which ended July 31, increased 9% to 36 cents per share on a diluted basis, compared with 33 cents per share on a diluted basis last year. Net earnings grew 3% to $234 million compared with $228 million for the second quarter last year.

“Our economic model helped us deliver both sales and earnings growth for the second quarter, while we navigated some challenges along the way,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer of Gap Inc. “Looking forward, we’re committed to our strategy of growing sales and market share in North America as we also invest in our long-term global and online growth initiatives.”

Second quarter net sales were $3.32 billion compared with $3.25 billion for the second quarter last year. The company’s second-quarter comparable-store sales increased 1% compared with a decrease of 8% for the second quarter last year. The company’s online sales for the second quarter of fiscal year 2010 increased 15% to $258 million compared with $224 million for the second quarter last year.

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