By  on February 26, 2009

Special charges threw the Warnaco Group Inc. to a fourth-quarter loss, but cost-cutting efforts and the continuing strength of its Calvin Klein licenses helped lift results above analysts’ expectations.

Net losses for the three months ended Jan. 3 were $16.3 million, or 36 cents a diluted share, compared with net income of $22.9 million, or 49 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Eliminating restructuring expenses, discontinued operations and other items, earnings per share was 21 cents, above the consensus estimate of 15 cents.

Revenues dipped 4 percent, to $445.9 million from $466.5 million, but rose 4 percent on a constant-currency basis. Gross margin improved 250 basis points to 42.2 percent of sales.

“The power of our diversified business model and the disciplined execution by our team enabled us to advance our long-term strategic goals and continue to position the company for further success,” said president and chief executive officer Joseph Gromek on an earnings call Thursday morning.

For the fiscal year, earnings fell 40.3 percent to $47.3 million, or $1.01 a diluted share, from $79.1 million, or $1.70, in 2007. Revenues for the year grew 13.5 percent to $2.07 billion from $1.82 billion. Calvin Klein brand revenues increased 21 percent to $1.5 billion for the year, representing almost three quarters of the company’s total sales. Calvin Klein Jeans revenues were up 24 percent; Calvin Klein Underwear revenues rose 16 percent, and Calvin Klein accessories revenues within the jeans segment increased 63 percent.

International revenues rose 26 percent, making up more than half of the total, with Latin-American sales up 59 percent, Asia 29 percent and Europe 23 percent.

Retail sales increased 28 percent for the year, with same-store sales ahead 12 percent in the quarter and 13 percent for the full year.

“The U.S. is probably 10 to 15 points behind what’s going on internationally,” Gromek said. “Remember all of our retail expansion is happening outside of the United States.”

The company provided guidance for 2009, anticipating revenues will decline 2 to 5 percent on a constant-currency basis, with expected earnings per share from continuing operations in the range of $2.40 to $2.66.

Shares of Warnaco ended Thursday’s trading session at $20.59, up 57 cents or 2.9 percent.

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