Women's career and casual sportswear firm Bernard Chaus Inc revealed Thursday it swung to a annual profit but posted a fall in fourth quarter income from the year-ago period when it was boosted by a hefty tax benefit.

The New York-based firm, whose brands include Josephine Chaus Collection and Josephine Chaus Sport, posted a quarterly net profit of $440,000, or one cent per diluted share, versus a profit of $1.9m, or seven cents per share, last year.

In the year-ago period its bottom line was boosted by a tax benefit of $953,000 and non-recurring other income of $193,000.

Revenues for the latest 13 week period rose to $33.6m from $32.7m in the same quarter a year ago.

For the full year, Bernard Chaus Inc posted a net profit of $4.7m, or 16 cents per share, versus a net loss of $2.2m in fiscal 2002. Sales fell to $140.2m from $145.8m.

"The strong increase in profitability Chaus delivered in fiscal 2003 is a clear reflection of the successful steps we have taken over the past 18 months to best manage our business within the difficult economic and retail climate," said chairwoman and CEO Josephine Chaus.

"We are proud that the actions we have taken to reduce operating expenses, improve the quality of our sales and enhance gross margin have enabled us to generate six consecutive profitable quarters and have laid a solid foundation for the future."

Vice chairman and COO, Nick DiPaolo, added: "As we look ahead to fiscal 2004, our objective is to continue to leverage the efficient infrastructure we now have in place and to increase sales by building on the early and encouraging results we have seen from our acquisition of certain assets of SL Danielle, which has given us a growth platform in the exclusive and private label business.

"While we expect the retail environment to remain challenging, we feel confident we are taking the right steps to ensure the Company's successful long-term growth."