Fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom said fourth-quarter net earnings were US$190.4m or $0.69 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended 28 January.

For the same period last year, net earnings and earnings per diluted share were $140.0m and $0.50, respectively.

Total sales for the fourth quarter of 2005 increased 9.3%, to $2.3bn, compared to sales of $2.1bn in the same period last year. Fourth quarter same-store sales increased 5.8%.

The earnings increase was boosted by strong sales momentum and ongoing operating improvements. Nordstrom said it "remains committed to providing a differentiated shopping experience and delivering superior long-term financial performance."

Continued improvement in regular-price sales throughout the quarter and a successful men's half-yearly clearance event drove the sales increase.

For the fiscal year ended 28 January, net earnings increased 40% to $551.3m compared to net earnings of $393.5m for the same period last year.

Total sales for the year increased 8.3% to $7.7bn compared to prior-year sales of $7.1bn. Same-store sales increased 6.0%.

During the fourth quarter Nordstrom opened one full-line store in Dallas, Texas at The North Park Center. Gross square footage for the year has increased about 3.5%, from 19,397,000 to 20,070,000. On 10 March, 2006, the company plans to open one store at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach, Florida.

For the fiscal year ending 3 February  2007, the company anticipates diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.15 to $2.23.