Target’s 4Q profit rises 53.7 percent

Leaninventory and stronger-than-expected holiday sales helped Target Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit soar 53.7 percent, and the company said it expects to pick up market share this year as it rolls out a new store format that includes a bigger grocery section.

The nation’s second-largest discounter said Tuesday it earned $936 million, or $1.24 per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 30.

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Revenue rose 3.2 percent to $20.18 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 0.6 percent. In comparison, chief rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc. saw its total sales at its U.S. Walmart stores fall for the first time, as price-cutting competitors lure away bargain-hunters. Walmart also suffered a 1.6 percent decline in sales at stores open at least a year, its third consecutive quarterly decline. [Read the full article]

Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship announces new $50,000, NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize to the World Largest and Richest Competition.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) of Rice University is pleased to announced that NASA Johnson Space Center will increase their prize offering with the addition of the $50,000 NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize. This will increase the NASA prizes to a total of $110,000 at the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition. This is the third year that NASA Johnson Space Center has sponsored prizes at the competition. [Read the full article]

Reuters – A “for sale” sign sits outside a house in Miami Beach October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria …

Home prices unexpectedly slipped in December but the annual rate of decline slowed, reinforcing the housing market’s rocky road to recovery, Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller indexes showed on Tuesday.

The S&P composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.2 percent in December, matching the dip in November, for a 3.1 percent annual drop.

A Reuters survey had forecast that prices would be unchanged for the month and down 3.2 percent annually, following a 5.3 percent annual drop in November.

“It’s really ambiguous right now as to where this market is heading,” Yale University economics professor Robert Shiller, a creator of the S&P Case-Shiller indexes, said on a conference call. [Read the full article]

California still leads the nation in milk production, but second-place Wisconsin is slowly closing the gap.

Milk production in Wisconsin rose 5 percent last month compared to the previous January. That was the highest rate of increase in the nation.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wisconsin produced 2.2 billion pounds of milk last month. That’s 97 million pounds more than in January 2009.

California, meanwhile, had a 2 percent drop over the same period. But it’s still comfortably in the lead, having produced 3.4 billion pounds last month.

The other states with large increases were Washington, which was also up 5 percent, and Minnesota, which was up 4 percent. [Read the full article]

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