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Target (TGT) reported quarterly earnings of half a billion dollars. For three months of earnings. More precisely, the number was $506 million -- for 90 days of sales. That's not revenues -- they were $13.57 billion. For 90 days.

Obviously, Target has hit the target with a lot of shoppers. The company said higher sales came from new-store expansion and a 4.6% increase in sales at stores open longer than one year, also known as same-store sales. The CEO, Robert Ulrich, said he was pleased with the third quarter results and expects the fourth quarter to produce profitable market share growth. So look for more than a half billion in profits for the last quarter of the year, the one where all the Christmas shopping is done.

The earnings per share ([EPS] were 59 cents. Analysts thought the company would do 55 cents per share on sales of $13.58 billion. TGT did better on the profitability but was a little shy on the sales number (13.57). So surprise efficiencies must account for the higher than expected EPS.

Try to imagine the logistics involved in moving that much merchandise in one quarter: the computers to track the inventory, the trucking logistics to move the goods from warehouses to stores, the personnel to staff the stores, the ordering (in a timely way) of merchandise to keep the shelves stocked. This is a mammoth operation. And it's obviously being done well.

Last year, earnings per share for the same quarter were 49 cents. This year, they're 59 cents with sales climbing 10.9% and credit card revenues gaining 20.7%. Something is going right at Target. No make that more than one thing. Many things are going right for Target.

First, it has the price points down that customers find attractive. It has the merchandise that customers want. It has store locations that make it easy to find and use. In other words, Target knows retailing and is delivering goods to the customers and earnings to the shareholders, earnings that are better than expected. It's always nice to report that.

Disclosure: Author has no position in TGT

TGT 1-yr chart:

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See: Target F3Q06 (Qtr End 10/28/06) Earnings Call Transcript

Source: Target: Hitting the Mark