• Q4 net profit US$229.2m, versus $30.1m loss
  • Sales down 2.6% to $447.1m
  • Impacted by falling sales at Juicy Couture

Apparel company Liz Claiborne recorded a strong increase in fourth quarter profit, but saw its most significant brand lose sales over the crucial Christmas trading period.

The business, which changes its name to Fifth & Pacific Companies in May, would have posted a loss for the three months to 31 December but for the sale of its namesake Liz Claiborne brand to retailer JC Penney.

It recorded underlying earnings per diluted share of US$0.10, compared to $0.14 in last year’s fourth quarter.

Sales fell 2.6% thanks to a 15.4% revenue decline for Juicy Couture, partially offset by revenue gains by Lucky Brand and Kate Spade of 23.2% and 73.4% respectively.

Updating the brands’ recent performance, Liz Claiborne said comparable store sales for Lucky Brand were up 29% in January and 21% in February to date, while for Kate Spade, the respective increases were 30% and 16%.

Meanwhile, Juicy Couture’s comps declines were 8% in January and 2% in February to date – sales trends which Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb described as “very encouraging”.

McComb added that the company was focused on maximising the growth opportunities for its three brands in 2012.

Click here for more analysis: Juicy Couture weighs on Liz Claiborne fortunes.