Target Corp reported a lower quarterly profit on Wednesday, but the results beat Wall Street expectations as the No 2 U.S. discount retailer kept a tight control on inventory and expenses, and said its credit card business was profitable.

Target, which is locked in a proxy battle with activist investor William Ackman, said profit fell to $522 million, or 69 cents per share for its fiscal first quarter ended May 2, from $602 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting it to earn 60 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales edged up to $14.4 billon from $14.3 billion.

The results mark Target's seventh consecutive drop in quarterly profit and come as shoppers stick to buying basics instead of splurging on the trendy clothes or furniture that account for roughly 40 percent of the company's sales.

But earlier this month, Target said it expected first-quarter profit to be well above 52 cents per share, driven by better-than-expected results at its stores, where it has been keeping tight controls on inventory.

Shares rose to $43.70 in premarket trading from a close of $41.94 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Dave Zimmerman)