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Target’s 2Q profit falls 13% on shopper caution

NEW YORK — Target Corp. on Wednesday became the latest in a string of companies that have lowered their earnings expectations as they contend with an uncertain economy.

The cheap-chic retailer muted its annual profit forecast after reporting a 13 percent drop in second-quarter profit. Its expansion into Canada — its first foray outside the United States — has proven more challenging than expected.

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Target also is contending with mixed economic signals that have caused it and its rivals, from Walmart Stores Inc. to Macy’s, to temper their forecasts. While the job and housing markets are gaining momentum, the improvements have not been enough to get most Americans to spend more.

“We continue to see a mix of signals in which emerging optimism is balanced with continuing challenges,’’ said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chief executive.

Target earned $611 million, or 95 cents per share, in the quarter ended Aug. 3. That compares with $704 million, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier. Excluding certain items related to its expansion into Canada, the retailer earned $1.19 per share.

Total revenue reached $17.12 billion, up 2 percent. Analysts expected 96 cents per share on revenue of $17.28 billion, according to FactSet.

Target’s shares fell 3.6 percent to $65.50 Wednesday.

Revenue at stores open at least a year — a key gauge of a retailer’s health — rose 1.2 percent, not the 1.9 percent analysts expected.

For the full year, Target now expects earnings per share at the low end of its previous guidance of $4.70 to $4.90.

Target said that it expects its costs related to its Canadian expansion will depress earnings by 82 cents, up from its previously projected 45 cents per share.

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