Athletic apparel maker Russell Corporation has posted fourth quarter net income of $14.5 million, unchanged from the same period a year earlier.

The company also reported a two per cent fall in net sales to $302.4m for the three-month period, compared to $308.4m in fourth quarter 2002.

According to CEO Jack Ward, a downturn in fleece sales and a continued reduction in customer inventories negatively affected revenue for the quarter.

"During the quarter, we aggressively reduced costs in all areas of our business, which enabled us to be at the high end of our earnings guidance," he said.

"However, our top-line was softer than anticipated, principally as a result of key customers continuing to reduce their inventories and poor weather conditions impacting fleece sales."

Russell Corporation operates brands including Russell Athletic, Spalding and Mossy Oak.