Shopping carts outside a Target department store in Woburn, Massachusetts, USA 25 October 2017. Target Corporation is the second largest discount retail store in the United States to Walmart, and is traded on the NYSE as TGT.Target department store in Woburn, USA - 25 Oct 2017

It hasn’t been a strong holiday period for many retailers, but Target Corp. bucked the trend.

Shares in the retailer rose 6 percent in pre-market trading after it revealed comparable sales for the fourth quarter were up 5.3 percent thanks to stronger traffic, beating analysts’ expectations of 5 percent.

Within that, comparable store sales grew 2.9 percent and comparable digital sales surged 31 percent. Stores fulfilled nearly three quarters of Target’s fourth-quarter digital sales. Total revenue was $23 billion, essentially flat compared with last year.

It wasn’t all rosy in the fourth quarter, with net income sliding to $799 million, or $1.52 a share, from $1.1 billion, or $1.99 a share a year ago. On an adjusted measure, income was $1.53 a share, higher than last year’s $1.36 a share.

For the full-year comparable sales grew 5 percent — Target’s strongest performance since 2005.

“We’re very pleased with our fourth-quarter performance, which capped off an outstanding year for Target. Thanks to the dedication for Target’s team, we delivered our strongest traffic and comparable sales growth in well over a decade and our 2018 adjusted EPS set a new all-time record for the company,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer.

“We have been driving an ambitious agenda to transform our company, evolve with our guests and drive strong growth. On every count we’ve been successful.”

For full-year 2019, Target expects a low- to midsingle-digit increase in comparable sales and a midsingle-digit increase in operating income.

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