HINGHAM, Mass. -- Coming off an initial public offering of 12.6 million shares, The Talbots reported fourth-quarter earnings increased 54 percent, to $6.3 million, or 18 cents a share, from $4 million, or 12 cents, a year ago.

Earnings figures were adjusted to make them comparable following the Nov. 26 public offering.

Sales rose 14.3 percent, to $218.8 million from $191.5 million.

Retail store sales increased by 16.7 percent, to $181.5 million from $155.5 million and same-store sales increased 10.9 percent. Catalog sales were up 3.6 percent, to $37.3 million from $36 million.

For the year ended Jan 29, profits were aheae 45 percent, to $41.9 million, or $1.20 per share, from $28.9 million, or 83 cents. Sales were up 14.8, to $736.7 million from $641.8 million a year ago.

Retail sales climbed 17.7 percent, to $582.8 million from $495 million. and same-store sales increased 4.8 percent. Catalog sales were ahead 4.8 percent, to $153.9 million from $146.8 million.

In the current year, the company said it plans to open approximately 50 stores, including its first in the United Kingdom, in the fall. Also in the works is an accessories and shoe catalog.

The stock closed Thursday at 32 7/8, up 1 1/8 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Talbots operates 345 women's apparel stores and has an annual catalog circulation of 60 million.

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