By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - U.S. discount retail chainTarget Corp said on Wednesday it expects to recover frominitial stumbles in its ambitious push into Canada and still hitlong-term growth targets.
Canada is still key to Target's growth over the next fiveyears, executives said. While the company's near-term outlookremained cautious, Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan saidthe retailer was expecting three to four percent total annualsales growth through 2017.
It was also maintaining its long-term, 2017 earnings pershare target of $8.00 and dividends per share of $3.00.
Target, which will have 124 Canadian stores by the end ofits grand opening year, said a shortfall in sales was thebiggest issue in Canada. That shortfall, combined withadditional investments to improve operations in Canada, isputting near-term pressure on earnings.
Executives, speaking at a special meeting with analysts inToronto, said it was investing in technology and other tools tohelp improve stocking and supply chains, a key complaint amongCanadian shoppers, as well as changing customer perception onpricing.
"2013 has been a year of milestones, learnings andchallenges for the Target Canada team," said Tony Fisher,president of Target Canada.
"And while sales are below our initial expectations, ourprogress to date gives me a tremendous amount of confidence inour ability to meet our long-term goal of $6 billion in annualsales by 2017."
Fisher said Target was not satisfied with initial results,and that it was determined to have a strong holiday performancein the fourth quarter.
Target, which is planning to open some 25 more Canadianstores by 2017, noted that some U.S. border stores have beenimpacted from the Canadian store openings.
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