FINANCE

Limited surprises Street with Q1 profit

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio Wall Street got an unexpected surprise late Wednesday when The Limited Brands beat estimates with a first-quarter profit. Analysts expected a loss from the company, but strategic cost-cutting measures offset lower sales and effected the surprising turnaround.

Profit for the quarter was $2.6 million, down sharply from a $97.8 million profit last year. Revenue dropped 10% to $1.73 billion. Analysts expected a loss on slightly higher revenue of $1.75 billion.

“Limited is an underloved recovery story,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater wrote in a research note to investors. He said the company’s improved margins and growing profit from international royalties should help boost its performance.

Same-store sales fell 7% during the quarter.

Limited has faced falling sales as consumers curb spending during the recession, but it has cut its costs in response.

The company said it now expects a profit to end its 2009 fiscal year.

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Target 1Q EPS down 6.8%

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target reported net earnings of $522 million for the first quarter ended May 2, compared with $602 million in the first quarter ended May 3, 2008. Earnings per share in the first quarter decreased 6.8% to 69 cents from 74 cents in the same period a year ago. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted earnings per share.

“Our first quarter earnings per share reflect disciplined execution of our strategy in a difficult environment,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Retail sales increased 0.4% in the first quarter to $14.4 billion in 2009 from $14.3 billion in 2008, due to the contribution from new store expansion partially offset by a 3.7% decline in comparable-store sales.

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Sam’s Club offering $15 memberships

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Sam’s Club has launched a $15 membership program for the summer. The special membership is available for purchase for a limited time between May 20 and June 7, during regular club hours and extends to new Advantage and Business members. Annual membership fees start at $35.

The membership program is part of Sam’s Club’s “100 Days of Summer” campaign promoting savings and tips for enjoying the summer season.

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