• Q4 earnings rose 91.2% to $77.7m
  • Sales jumped 16% to $589m
  • Sales and profit trend up in each quarter

Clothing and homewares retailer Urban Outfitters Inc has nearly doubled its fourth quarter profit, helped by soaring sales, better initial margins and fewer markdowns.

The Philadelphia-based firm, , which operates the Anthropologie, Free People, Leifsdottir and Urban Outfitters brands, said earnings rose 91.2% to $77.7m or $0.45 a share, up from $40.5m or $0.24 a share, a year ago.

Sales jumped 16% to $589m, with same-store sales up 9%. By format, comparable store sales rose 10% and 11% at Anthropologie and Free People, and were flat at Urban Outfitters.

Direct-to-consumer sales surged 28%.

Gross profit margin improved by 771 basis points in the three month period, on improvements in initial merchandise margins and a reduction in merchandise markdowns.

Earnings for the year to 31 January were $219.9m or $1.28 per share, a rise of 10.3% from last year’s $199.4m or $1.17 per share.

Sales for the year increased 6% to a record $1.9bn.

“The sales and profit trend improved in each quarter throughout 2009, and our current February 'comp' sales performance exceeded our fourth quarter 'comp',” said CEO Glen T Senk.