Target profits down 24 percent; Also: Survey catches discrepancy with PepsiAmericas exec, and Medtronic, St. Jude Medical announcements

Target investors pretty much knew this was coming: After reporting back-to-back months of disappointing sales results, the company said today third-quarter profits finished down a staggering 24 percent. Target is struggling along with most other retailers as shoppers dramatically reduce their spending in a season when it should be ramping up.

Target earned $369 million in the three months ending Nov. 1. That’s down from $483 million during the same period last year. That works out to 49 cents per share for investors. It’s about what analysts expected from the company, according to a recent survey by Thomson Reuters. CEO Gregg Steinhafel says the company’s entire organization is focused on “providing compelling reasons for our guests to shop at Target in these difficult times.”

Corporate executives inflate their academic credentials more often than you might guess, according to a new survey reported in the Wall Street Journal. The study checked out claims about 358 senior executives at 53 publicly traded companies. It found at least seven who were reported to have degrees they don’t have. Most of them appear to have been non-intentional slip-ups, the result of misunderstandings, the newspaper reports.

Caught in the net: Kenneth Keiser, president of PepsiAmericas Inc. in Minneapolis. Keiser has been identified as having a bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State in SEC filings by C.H. Robinson Worldwide, where he is a director. He attended from 1973 to 1976 but never graduated. A PepsiAmericas spokeswoman said the company was aware Keiser stopped college “10 or 20 hours short of a degree,” and that C.H. Robinson likely mistakenly imputed the degree in a “communications error.”

Medical Device News: Medtronic says it’s acquired a bone cement delivery system to be used with its spinal surgery products. Small balloons are inserted and inflated in the fractured area, then deflated and removed so the cavity can be filled with bone cement. Also: St. Jude Medical has received approval to sell its Victory brand pacemakers in Japan.

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