NEW YORK — Belk Inc. converted a fractional sales gain into bottom-line growth in fiscal 2003.

For the 12 months ended Feb. 1, the nation’s largest privately held department store company said net income swelled 32.5 percent to $84 million, or $1.53 a share. That compares with last year’s earnings of $63.4 million, or $1.16. Excluding special items in both years, net income would have been $95 million versus $71.4 million last year.

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