Upscale women’s and children’s clothing producer Marisa Christina Inc on Monday posted an 8.3 per cent climb in third quarter net earnings to $1.9 million from $1.7m in the year-ago period.

The New York-based company said net sales for the quarter fell 16.5 per cent to $10.5m from $12.6m in 2001 due to the discontinuation of an unprofitable label and a general downturn in the economy.

For the nine month period, net earnings rose 32.7 per cent to $800,000 from $600,000 in the first nine months of 2001.

Chairman Michael Lerner said: "The third quarter results were in line with our projections, in spite of lower sales volume. We continue to show improved margins and our lower operating expenses continue to keep us on track.

"Although the fourth quarter will be negatively impacted by the West Coast dock lockout and an extremely difficult retail environment, we are still hopeful that we can achieve the lower end of our earnings expectations.

"Our expectations have been that diluted earnings per share will be between $0.20 and $0.35 for the year 2002."