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Target posts earnings of 86 cents/share, meeting estimates

Target delivered quarterly earnings that met analysts' expectations on Wednesday, but revenue and same-store sales beat expectations.

The retailer also raised its full-year earnings forecast for the second time in three months.

The company said it now expects earnings of $4.65 to $4.75 per share for the year ending January. It had forecast earnings of $4.60 to $4.75 per share in August.

Target posted third-quarter earnings of 86 cents per share, up from 54 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue fell to $17.61 billion from $17.73 billion a year ago.

Wall Street had expected the company to deliver quarterly earnings per share of 86 cents on $17.57 billion in revenue, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters.

Shares of the retailer were down 4 percent mid-day Wednesday. But CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC Target is "right on plan" with their financial goals for the year.

"We had great traffic growth again in the third quarter," Cornell said. "We expect that to continue in the fourth quarter. And we spent a lot of time making sure we've got great plans in place."

Same-store sales rose 1.9 percent in the quarter, slightly above estimates of an increase of 1.8 percent.

"We feel really good about our plans for the holidays, " Cornell said. "I think it builds off of the momentum we've seen throughout the year."

In late October, the retailer said it will drop the minimum purchase requirement for free shipping for shoppers on its website between Nov. 1 and Christmas.

Target had a $50 threshold for free shipping, but in the wake of the strong holiday response, the big box retailer in February slashed the threshold to $25.

Cornell also mentioned Target's increased focus on food products this year as an advantage for the company as the Thanksgiving season approaches.

Target, like other retailers, has had to adapt to changing fashion trends and the increasing share of shoppers that buy online, Cornell said. Target's digital growth, at 20 percent, declined from the previous quarter, but Cornell said he still expects to outpace the rest of the industry.

"I know that most of our guests start with a digital device in their hand," Cornell said. "So making sure we've got the right digital offering, whether that brings them to the site or encourages them to come to the store, either way, we win. And we saw traffic growth in store and online last quarter. So I feel good about our overall strategy in digital."

Shares of Target have risen 8.7 percent in the last 12 months.

— CNBC's Courtney Reagan contributed to this report.