NEW YORK — Kellwood Co.’s fourth-quarter profits showed a significant gain as its restructuring came in below budget and ahead of schedule.

The St. Louis sportswear supplier said net earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 28 jumped to $12.5 million, or 49 cents a diluted share, from $7.1 million, or 25 cents, in the prior year, on sales that dropped 4.5 percent, to $473.4 million from $495.5 million. Excluding restructuring and other related charges and credits, net earnings were $7.4 million, or 29 cents, which compares with $3.9 million, or 23 cents, in the prior period.

For the year, Kellwood posted a loss of $38.4 million, or $1.24 a share, versus net income of $66.3 million, or $2.37 a share, in the prior year, on sales that fell 6.4 percent, to $2.06 billion from $2.2 billion.

Profits for the year include restructuring charges of $86 million, which were offset by a one-time tax benefit of $13 million for the repatriation of foreign earnings. Excluding the charges and gains, net earnings were $45.6 million, or $1.68, for the year, which compares with $64.4 million, or $2.30 a share, in the prior period.

During the year, the firm bought back 2.2 millions shares at $24.99 each as part of its share-repurchase program.

Robert Skinner Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that results “were ahead of expectations and demonstrate meaningful progress toward meeting our restructuring, brand refocusing and balance sheet initiatives.”

Skinner said during the quarter the company wrapped up its restructuring, which came in “below budget by approximately $70 million before tax.”

“We also continued to execute our turnaround strategies that focus on improving the performance of our lifestyle brands by upgrading our talent base and enhancing our business processes,” Skinner added.

By business segment, sales of both women’s and men’s sportswear declined 6 percent while sales off other soft goods rose 5 percent.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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