Target Corp.'s credit card profits nearly quadrupled in the fiscal fourth quarter as the retailer wrote off fewer loans and socked away less money for future losses.

The Minneapolis company, which announced last month that it was exploring a sale of its credit card receivables, on Thursday said its card segment profit was $151 million in the quarter ending Jan. 29, up from $39 million a year earlier.

For all of 2010, profit rose 169% to $541 million.

Revenue fell 17% in the quarter to $384 million, due to lower finance charges and late fee revenue.

However, its average receivables fell 15% in the quarter to $6.9 billion.

Target said it recorded a bad debt expense of $83 million in the quarter, down 71% from a year earlier.

In January, the company said it hired First Annapolis Consulting to pursue a sale of its card receivables.

Target has said that if it sells the receivables it plans to retain control of its card program. The company issues private-label credit cards as well as debit cards. It previously issued co-branded Visa Inc. cards but stopped offering that program in April.

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