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Target resumes share buyback as business improves

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Target resumes share buyback as business improves
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Target Corp. will resume a $10 billion share buyback program because business is improving along with the economy, the retailer said today.

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The discount chain halted its stock repurchase in November 2008 as it tried to preserve cash and debt ratings during what it called "an exceptionally challenging environment."

But Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chairman, president and CEO, said today that better results in its stores and credit card business prompted the move, along with carefully controlled expenses that combined to help the company generate more cash.

Last week, the cheap chic chain said better-than-expected customer traffic helped its December sales rise.

Sales in stores open at least a year rose 1.8 percent during the five weeks ended Jan. 2. Through its fiscal year-to-date, sales in stores open at least a year fell 2.7 percent, while total sales rose less than 1 percent to $59.15 billion.

At the end of the third quarter, Target had acquired 95.2 million shares for about $4.9 billion, or half of the amount authorized by the company's board in late 2007.

Executives expect to complete the program in two or three years.

Target is based in Minneapolis.

Target shares climbed 76 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $50.10 in pre-market trading today. Shares closed Wednesday at $49.34.

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