US retailer Target Corp. has raised its full-year earnings guidance after booking an increase in first-quarter profits, boosted by “better-than-expected” sales.

In the three months to the end of March, Target earned US$697m, a 1.2% increase on the prior-year period, it reported today (16 May).

Operating profits in the period amounted to $1.28bn, a 1.6% increase on last year, while sales rose 6.1% to $16.54bn.

Sales increased on the back of a 5.3% growth in comparable-store sales and the contribution from new stores, the retailer said.

“We’re very pleased with our first quarter earnings, which benefited from better-than-expected sales,” said president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

“While our outlook for the remainder of 2012 reflects continued economic uncertainty, we are confident in our strategy, keenly focused on delivering an affordable and inspirational merchandise assortment to our guests and committed to making thoughtful investments in our US and Canadian business segments that we expect will reward our shareholders over time.”

For the full year, Target raised its guidance by 5 cents and now expects adjusted EPS of $4.60 to $4.80.

Click here to view the full earnings release.