Charming Shoppes 4Q Profit Declines

Bensalem, Pa., Charming Shoppes said fourth-quarter preliminary earnings—excluding any impact from a review of lease-accounting practices—fell 45% from the year-ago period lifted by an extraordinary gain. Income for the quarter, ended Jan. 29, was $5.5 million, or 5? a share, down from $10.1 million, or 9? a share, a year ago. Last year’s profit includes a pretax $5 million gain related to employee medical-benefit programs.

Fourth-quarter sales rose slightly to $586.1 million from $585.6 million. Same-store sales fell 2%.

For the full fiscal year, the company earned $67.2 million, or 54? a share, compared with $40.6 million, or 35? a share, in 2003. Sales rose 2% to $2.33 billion. Same-store sales rose 1%.

Charming Shoppes said it experienced solid progress in the improvement of its Lane Bryant brand during the year, including strong increases in both gross and operating margins.