Earnings Reports for Aug. 15

Owing to stronger-than-expected online sales, Staples.com pre-tax losses of $29.8 million for the quarter were narrower than expected by the company. Staples.com operations include the Staples.com, Quill.com and StaplesLink.com Web sites, as well as the company’s Canadian e-commerce business.

The company said it has plans to further develop some key areas of the business, including its European operations, its e-commerce operations and its business services.

Staples’ European business saw sales at stores open at least one year grow 18 percent. In addition, the company opened six new stores during the quarter, bringing the total number in Europe to 149. It plans on opening about 20 European stores this year.

In the United States, Staples said it has 943 stores and has oversight for the 162 Staples stores in Canada.

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J.C. Penney Profits Fall 90 Percent

Department store giant J.C. Penney said today its operating profits fell 90 percent in the second quarter and warned that results for the balance of the year would be hurt if slow sales at its department stores continued.

Penney, the No. 5 U.S. retailer, said income excluding unusual items fell to $11 million, or 1 cent per diluted share, from $112 million, or 40 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had expected Penney to break even for the quarter, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

Quarterly revenues rose to $7.43 billion from $7.31 billion a year ago.

Penney, which operates about 1,100 department stores and 2,600 Eckerd drugstores, also said the initial public offering of an Eckerd tracking stock would not occur this year as previously announced.

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Target Nails Estimates

Target, the No. 4 U.S. retailer, reported today a 13 percent increase in second quarter operating income, meeting Wall Street expectations, as results were helped by sales at its upscale discount Target stores.

Target said net income before items in the second quarter ended July 29 rose to $257 million, or 28 cents a diluted share, compared with $228 million, or 24 cents a diluted share. Year-ago figures reflect a two-for-one stock split on July 19.

Analysts polled by research firm First Call/Thomson Financial had expected Minneapolis-based Target to report a profit of 28 cents a share.

“We are pleased with our financial performance in the second quarter,” Bob Ulrich, chairman and chief executive officer of Target, said in a statement. “In addition, we remain comfortable that we will deliver full-year results consistent with our stated goal of 15 percent average annual earnings per share growth.”

Total revenues in the quarter rose to $8.25 billion, compared with $7.69 billion in the year-ago quarter. Sales in its upscale discount Target Stores unit rose 9.9 percent to $6.5 billion.

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