COTTON COSTS CRUNCH CONE NET

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Battered by high cotton costs, Cone Mills Corp. posted a 36.4 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings, while sales grew 14.6 percent.
In the quarter ended Jan. 1, Cone earned $7.3 million, or 24 cents a share, against $11.5 million, or 39 cents a year ago. Sales totaled $205.1 million, versus $179 million. The denim and home furnishings fabrics producer noted that the decline in earnings reflected higher cotton costs and below capacity operation of denim facilities. In the latest quarter, apparel fabric sales gained 15.5 percent to $151.9 million.
Net profits for the year fell 27 percent to $36.2 million, or $1.20, from $49.6 million, or $1.68, a year ago. A $1.2 million accounting charge in the latest year reduced earnings to $35 million. Sales rose 4.8 percent to $806.2 million. In the near term, Cone expects sales growth but continued earnings pressure from historically high cotton prices, said J. Patrick Danahy, chief executive officer.

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