Maternity clothing retailer Mothers Work Inc has posted a fourth quarter profit of $1.6 million, up from a loss of $1.8m recorded in the same period last year.

The Philadelphia-based retailer, the world's largest designer and retailer of maternity apparel, also saw net sales rise 10 per cent year-on-year for the quarter to $122.4m.

President and CEO Rebecca Mathias said the company was "taking a cautious outlook" towards fiscal 2004 despite the fourth quarter boost.

"The weakness in sales we experienced in September and October has not significantly improved thus far in November," she said.

"For fiscal 2004, we are targeting net sales of $530m to $535m, based on an assumed comparable store sales decrease of two per cent to three per cent for the year, and our plan to open 80 to 100 new locations for the year."

Mothers Work currently operates 1014 retail locations, including 857 stores and 157 leased departments, under the Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity trade names.