When comparing 2017 to 2008, how can Target Corporation’s EPS rise, yet its net earnings decrease?

Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) has been repurchasing its common stock over the past several years. Target’s fiscal year ends on the Saturday nearest to January 31.

Use the information from Target’s 2017 and 2008 fiscal years (a ten-year gap) in this table to answer the questions that follow.

Target Corporation

Comparing 2017 EPS to 2008 EPS

For Fiscal year ended

Jan. 28, 2017

Feb. 02, 2008

Net earnings per share (“EPS”)



Net earnings (“Net income”) (in millions)



Weighted-average common shares outstanding (in millions)



Approximate hypothetical 2017 EPS using 2008 weighted-average common shares ($2,737 ÷ 845.4 = $3.24)



  1. Judging solely based on earnings per share (EPS), has Target’s performance improved since 2008?
  2. Now judging solely on net earnings, has Target’s performance improved since 2008?
  3. How can you explain the difference between the two answers above?
  4. Approximately how many common shares has Target repurchased over the ten-year period illustrated in the table?

Instructor Resources

These resources are provided to give the instructor flexibility for use of Accounting in the Headlines articles in the classroom. The blog posting itself can be assigned via a link to this site OR by distributing the student handout below. Alternatively, the PowerPoint file below contains a bullet point overview of the article and the discussion questions.

  • Student handout (pdf) (word) (contains entire blog posting + discussion questions)
  • PowerPoint file (brief article overview + discussion questions)

Copyright 2017 Wendy M. Tietz, LLC

About Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CSCA, CGMA

Dr. Wendy Tietz is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA. She is also a textbook author with Pearson Education.

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