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Target beats, Costco disappoints in the discount sector

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Target and TJX Cos. both reported better-than-expected results in May, with a 4.4% and an 8% increase in same-store sales, respectively. Wall Street expected Target same-store sales to be up 3.5% in May and forecasted TJX sales to rise 5.3%.

TJX’s strong performance in May even prompted the company to raise its forecast to the high end of its previous earnings estimate. And Target saw strength from such categories as food, clothing and health supplies, which helped push results to high end of the retailer’s expected range. “We’re confident that Target is well-positioned to continue delivering a superior guest experience and strong financial performance for many years to come,” said Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel. Total sales for the four weeks ended May 26 rose 5% to $5.04 billion.

But not all chains outdid expectations. Costco Wholesale reported a same-store sales rise of 4%, missing the 4.3% that analysts forecasted. According to the company, results were negatively impacted by deflation in gasoline prices and foreign currencies.

Among other discounters’ results in May:

  • Ross was up 8%;
  • SteinMart was up 3%;
  • Cato May same-store sales rose 3%;
  • Stage was up 8%; and
  • Fred’s edged up 1.3%.

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Sam’s Club to host men’s health screenings

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club is marking Men’s Health Month in June by offering free men’s health screenings at its pharmacies.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 9, the first 75 participants at each club location with a pharmacy will receive a prostate-specific antigen test to screen for accelerated PSA protein levels in the blood, which is a symptom of benign prostate enlargement and/or prostate cancer, Sam’s Club said. Additional free screenings include body mass index and blood-pressure test (limited to the first 50 participants at each location), with the total offering valued at up to $150. Sam’s Club said the May/June issue of its exclusive bimonthly wellness magazine, Healthy Living Made Simple, also highlights basic lifestyle choices to help manage men’s health.

Later this summer, Sam’s Club said it is supporting communities with free health screenings focused on healthy aging on July 14.

"Sam’s Club has provided more than one million free screenings since March 2011, and we continue to explore ways for our communities to manage their health needs with the convenience and value our members deserve," Sam’s Club SVP health and wellness Jill Turner-Mitchael said.

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Ackman on JCPenney: Wait until August

BY CSA STAFF

NEWYORK — William Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, said that J.C. Penney Co. should start to see “real progress” in early 2013. Ackman made his comments in an interview Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Pershing Square owns about 18% of JCPenney.

Ackman, who has been steadfast in his support of CEO Ron Johnson’s ambitious reinvention of the chain, said that changes will start to become noticeable in Penney stores in August when new merchandise begins to make its way onto the sales floor.

Ackman also emphasized that it “takes time to educate the customer.”

"Ultimately, time is your friend when you look at strategy change," he said. “Eventually, people are going to get it."

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