CHICAGO -- Relieved of the drag from its money-losing retail business through some fancy financial footwork, Hartmarx Corp. reported a full year in the black after three years of multi-million dollar losses.

For the year ended Nov. 30, net earnings came to $6.2 million compared with a write-off-ridden loss of $220 million in the prior year. For the fourth quarter, the company reported earnings of $9 million, or 29 cents a share, up 60.4 percent from the $5.6 million or 22 cents a share earned in the year-ago period.

Earnings were helped in both years by LIFO credits from the reduction of inventory. In the latest quarter LIFO accounted for pre-tax income of $3.5 million against $4 million in the year-ago period. For the year, LIFO contributed $3.6 million pretax in 1993 and $3.3 million in 1992.

Sales in the quarter were down 13 percent to $184.1 million against $211.6 million, but the year-ago sales included about $28 million from Old Mill stores and other businesses that were not operating in the latest quarter. On a comparable basis sales were about flat.

For the full year, sales were $732 million against $1.1 billion a year earlier. Sales in fiscal 1992 from businesses no longer part of Hartmarx, including Hartmarx Specialty Stores (HSSI) sold in September 1992, came to about $360 million. Thus on a comparable basis sales were up about 5 percent for the year.

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