By  on February 27, 2008

The Warnaco Group Inc. posted a 21 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings, bolstered by strong sales in its sportswear business.

For the three months ended Dec. 29, earnings "as reported" grew to $22.9 million, or 49 cents a diluted share, from $18.9 million, or 41 cents in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings, which include restructuring charges among other items, rose 30 percent to $19.5 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, from $15 million, or 32 cents.

Sales for the quarter increased 5.7 percent to $473 million from $447.6 million last year. Adjusted sales gained 6.8 percent to $467.1 million, up from $437.2 million.

Income from continuing operations dropped to $19.8 million in the fourth quarter from $21.6 million in the same period last year. Gross margins gained 300 basis points, the company said in its quarterly report.

"We believe that our efforts to rationalize our portfolio will allow us to focus resources on our higher margin businesses, and capitalize on expansion opportunities on a global basis," said Joe Gromek, president and chief executive officer. "We believe this is most apparent in our Calvin Klein businesses, where we have added categories and channels to our existing portfolio to support our continued growth."

Sportswear sales in the quarter increased 10 percent to $245.7 million from $223.3 million last year. The growth was driven by strength in the global Calvin Klein jeans business, which offset sales declines in Chaps.

As reported, full-year earnings soared 55.7 percent to $79.1 million, or $1.70 a diluted share, from $50.8 million, or $1.08 a diluted share, in the year prior. Sales for the year rose 12 percent to $1.86 billion from $1.66 billion.

The company expects 2008 earnings in the range of $2.50 to $2.60 a diluted share.

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