By  on March 23, 2005

NEW YORK — Higher costs took the wind out of fourth-quarter earnings for Perry Ellis International Inc., but surging sales lifted the company to double-digit gains for the year.

For the three months ended Jan. 31, the Miami-based firm saw earnings retreat 3.2 percent to $8.2 million, or 83 cents a diluted share, compared with $8.5 million, or 93 cents, in the year-ago period. The earnings-per-share decline stemmed from the higher number of shares issued in a secondary stock offering in May, the company said.

Earnings for the year surged 59.4 percent to $21 million, or $2.15 a share, compared with $13.2 million, or $1.59 a share, in the previous year. Total revenues advanced 29.8 percent to $656.6 million from $505.9 million. Sales vaulted 30.9 percent to $633.8 million from $484.2 million, while royalties gained 5 percent to $22.8 million from $21.7 million.

“We remain focused on expense control and continue to improve the synergies related to the Salant and now the Tropical acquisition,” George Feldenkreis, chairman and chief executive officer, said during the company conference call. “We continue to invest in infrastructure to drive down operational costs.”

Total revenues for the fourth quarter rose 18.4 percent to $172.1 million from $145.4 million in the year-ago period. Revenues generated from sales increased 18.2 percent to $165.9 million from $140.3 million, while royalties shot up 21.8 percent to $6.2 million from $5.1 million.

“The increase during the quarter was primarily attributable to our men’s wear business as well as an increase in royalty income,” George Pita, chief financial officer, said during the call.

“The Perry Ellis brand continues to perform well and experienced a strong quarter driven by the sportswear collection, dress shirts and dress pant sales,” Oscar Feldenkreis, president and chief operating officer, said during the call.

The only segment that failed to perform well was swimwear, George Feldenkreis said.

In the coming year, management is depending on new Perry Ellis denim offerings and the continued success of the Original Penguin brand to fuel growth.

“[Original Penguin] has received resounding support from the media, entertainment and celebrities as well as the retailers and consumers,” Oscar Feldenkreis said. The company plans to introduce a premium line of Original Penguin men’s and women’s denim this spring. Two additional Original Penguin stores are slated to open this year, bringing the total up to five locations.

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