PARIS  Sweden’s Hennes & Mauritz on Thursday said fourth-quarter profits grew 14 percent, below analysts’ expectations, as business in December proved difficult in some European markets. H&M said profit after financial items for the three months through December reached 6.22 billion Swedish kronor, or $970.2 million, from 5.44 billion Swedish kronor, or $768.6 million, a year ago. Sales in the fourth quarter grew 17 percent to 22.82 billion Swedish kronor, or $3.56 billion, propelled by rapid expansion in China and Eastern Europe.

Comparable-store sales in the quarter expanded 5 percent.

H&M stock improved 1.22 percent to 332 Swedish kronor, or $52.12, in mid-morning trading in Stockholm as investors reacted to strong sales figures for January, which H&M said gained 16 percent in local currency terms through Jan. 29.

For complete coverage, see Friday’s WWD.

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