Abercrombie income rises 9,4%

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: Abercrombie & Fitch Co. posted that its fourth-quarter profit rose 9.4% on higher Internet sales and purchases at its namesake chain.

Net earnings rose to 216.8 million dollars, or 2.40 dollars per share, in the three months ended February 2 from 198.2 million dollars, or 2.14 dollars per share, a year earlier. Revenue advanced 7.9% to 1.23 billion dollars.

The retailer sells jeans, T-shirts and other casual clothes at its Abercrombie & Fitch stores and on the Internet. The company, which also runs Hollister Co. outlets for teens, reduced inventory to limit markdowns and increased more-profitable overseas sales.

Abercrombie predicted profit for the first half of the year of 1.61 dollars per share to 1.65 dollar. The low end of the forecast suggests a 1% sales decline at stores open at least a year.

Analysts projected fourth-quarter profit of 2.36 dollars per share, 1.23 billion dollars in sales, on average.

The retailer's divisions include Hollister, which sells board shorts and graphic T-shirts, the abercrombie children's chain and Ruehl, which is geared toward shoppers in their 20s.

The company last March opened its first European location, an Abercrombie & Fitch store in London. The store generates similar sales per square foot as the main New York store, Chief Financial Officer Michael Kramer said.

After its expansion into the United Kingdom, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. plans to continue expansion in the area with key locations - preliminary talks about opening a store in Dublin, Ireland have been held. The company has been considering European expansion and decided to open stores in Europe believing that the demand for the brand has grown strong. Currently, Abercrombie & Fitch is in the process of securing key locations in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.

For the year, Abercrombie earned 475.7 million dollars, or 5.20 dollars per share, compared with 422.2 million dollars, or 4.59 dollars per share, the previous year. Sales rose 13% to 3.75 billion dollars for the year, up from 3.32 billion dollars a year ago. There was an extra week in the year-ago period.