Discount retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) reported June same-store sales increases of 3.3%. This amount was in line with company guidance, but (as it stated earlier) at the low end of management's expected 3%-5% range. Given the mixed results in retail, where headlines incessantly shift between "it's bad" and "it's good," the result wasn't bad.

That up/down trend can be seen from a few examples. Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) same-store sales were up only 2.4%. J.C. Penney's (NYSE:JCP) comps fell 1.5%, while TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) had a solid 5% increase.

Perhaps more interesting are the rumors swirling around the company. First, there was speculation that Target would divest its credit card operations. This doesn't seem likely to me, since the division is a very profitable, fast-growing part of its business. Plus, it will take a while to deprogram employees from saying "If you open a credit card account today, you'll get 10% off your purchase." In addition, management has consistently said it sees credit cards as a key component of its business.

Also, there is talk that William Ackman, of Pershing Square Capital Management, had amassed about a 5% stake in the company. This also seems odd to me. Mr. Ackman has usually taken an activist stance, and he has a history of buying shares of companies at depressed prices and pushing for changes to provide a boost to the stock price. In his battle with Wendy's (NYSE:WEN), he pushed to have management spin off Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) and convert many of the corporate-owned Wendy's restaurants to franchises. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is another example; there, he tried to boost returns for his fund by seeking to spin off about two-thirds of its restaurants, then borrow against the real estate.

Target's stock has had a nice run-up, rising by a total of more than 60% over the past three years. Wal-Mart's stock price is down 4% over the same time frame. Despite economic headwinds, Target continues to perform well. Stockholders are pretty happy with their returns (who wouldn't be?). This seems like an odd time for an activist-type manager to jump in.

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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and promises to read it when not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy believes fashion doesn't have to be expensive.