US discount retailer Target Corp posted a drop in second quarter net earnings as a result of consumers cutting back during the economic downturn.

For the period ended 4 August, net earnings dropped to US$634m compared with $686m for the same period last year.

Earnings per share in the second quarter increased 2.4% to $0.82 from $0.80 in the same period a year ago.

Total revenue, including that from credit cards, climbed 5.8% to $15.5bn, as a result of new store openings.

"Our second quarter earnings per share modestly exceeded our expectations despite continued soft sales trends," said Gregg Steinhafel, president and chief executive officer. "We continue to focus on driving our financial results through superior execution and discipline and by continuing to delight our guests with differentiated merchandise at a compelling value."

In the second quarter, under the share repurchase programme announced in November 2007, the company repurchased around 33.8m shares of its common stock at an average price of $49.30, for a total investment of $1.7bn.

The company expects to complete the programme by the end of 2010 or sooner, and is on target to attain its previously stated expectation to complete half or more of the $10bn authorisation by the end of 2008.