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No rest for weary Target as profit misses estimates

Battered by a massive data breach and the ouster of its top executive, Target said on Wednesday its quarterly earnings plunged 16 percent during the first quarter, although revenue surprised to the upside.

After the earnings announcement, the third largest U.S. retailer saw its shares fall 0.2 percent in pre-market trading. (Click here for the latest quote.)

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The battered retail giant posted first-quarter earnings excluding items of 70 cents per share, down from 82 cents per share in the year-earlier period. The company cited fallout from its trouble-plagued expansion plans into Canada, and sliced its outlook for the year amid the lingering uncertainty.

Revenue, however, rose to $17.05 billion from $16.71 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected Target to report earnings of 71 cents per share on $17.01 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"First-quarter financial performance in both our U.S. and Canadian segments was in line with expectations, reflecting the benefit of continued recovery from the data breach and early signs of improvement in our Canada operations," said acting CEO John Mulligan, in a statement. "While we are pleased with this momentum, we need to move more quickly."

Although retail companies overall have reported weak earnings in the wake of a bitterly cold winter, Target has endured a particularly bleak stretch of bad news. The retail giant has struggled ever since disclosing a data breach late last year that affected millions of its customers.

Earlier this month, CEO Gregg Steinhafel was abruptly ousted, a move that has done little to dispel the doubts surrounding the company, particularly as a high-profile Canadian expansion has faltered badly.

--By CNBC

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