Perl does lots of magic, especially in the way it handles scalars as strings, integers and floats simultaneously.
In your case, the value is being handled as a string until you force Perl to treat it as a number (by using it in a multiplication). The result is a floating point value, subject to the inaccuracies described elsewhere. If it comes up with a seemingly exact value sometimes, well, welcome to the mystery :)
I take it the issue here is that you want a leading zero, or some other normalization? If so, then use sprintf to enforce the format you want. Try <%=sprintf("%1.2f",$target)%> for instance.
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