NEW YORK -- A painful combination of heavy promotion, disappointing sales and special charges pushed Woolworth Corp. deeply into the red for the fourth quarter and year ended Jan. 29.

In the quarter, Woolworth's had a net loss of $46 million against a year-ago profit of $165 million, or $1.26 a share.

Included in the latest quarter was an after-tax loss of $104 million expected to result from the planned sale of 120 of its 142 Woolco stores in Canada to Wal-Mart Stores. Also cutting into comparative operating results was a smaller LIFO credit of $7 million against a $43 million credit a year earlier.

The operating loss for the quarter came to $21 million against a year-ago operating profit of $286 million.

Sales dropped 10.2 percent, to $2.8 billion from $3.3 billion. Specialty store sales were up 3.5 percent, while general merchandise store sales fell 21 percent. The figures in the latest and year-ago quarters exclude the sales of the 970 stores closed or repositioned.

For the year, the net loss came to $495 million against net income of $280 million, or $2.14 a share, in 1992. Woolworth's sales for the year were down 3.4 percent, to $9.6 billion from $10 billion.

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