Ascena Retail Group Inc, operator of the Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice stores, says one-time charges and an accounting change that cut a week off its reporting calendar are to blame for a fall in fourth quarter profit.

Reported profit fell 32.9% to $28.2m or $0.35 per share, down from $42.0m or $0.52 per share, a year earlier. But on an adjusted basis, net income increased to $38.5m or $0.48 per share, compared to $34.0m or $0.42 per share last year.

Net sales for the three months to 30 July rose 2% to $725.8m, up from $710.9m last time. On an adjusted basis, excluding the effect of the extra week in last year's quarter, sales increased 11%.

The gains were due to a 7% rise in same-store sales, which include stores open for at least one year. By brand, there was a rise of 4% at Dressbarn, 3% at Maurices and 14% at JusticeFiscal Full Year Results

For the full year, reported profit climbed to a record $170.5m or $2.11 per share, the company said, from $133.4m or $1.73 per share the year before. Adjusted profit soared to $188.7m or $2.33 per share, from $136.1m or $1.77 per share.

Results reflect strong growth in operating income at Maurices and Justice, including the first full year contribution from the Justice chain.

Net sales increased 23% to $2.91bn from $2.37bn, with same-store sales up 6%. By brand, comparable store sales increased by 2% at Dressbarn, 10% at Maurices and 8% at Justice.

"Our results were achieved in a very tough environment and we remain positioned for growth both in sales and operating profitability," said president and CEO David Jaffe.

"Our balance sheet and cash flow remain very strong and we have the resources to continue to pursue organic growth and to continue to search for complementary acquisitions."

For the year ahead the company expects earnings per share in the range of $2.55 to $2.65, based on a mid-single digit rise in same-store sales.