Apparel giant and manufacturer of Wrangler and Lee jeans, VF Corp, on Wednesday revealed it swung to a fourth quarter profit as it reaped the rewards of a major restructuring program and higher sales.

The North Carolina-based firm reported a net profit of net income of $76.6 million, or 69 cents a share, for the 13 weeks to January 4, versus a year-ago loss of $112.6m, or $1.03 a share.

The latest results include restructuring charges of 18 cents a share and gains of five cents a share. Excluding these items and results from discontinued operations, VF made $84.4m, or 76 cents a share, compared with $56m, or 49 cents a share, in 2001.

Sales climbed 6.2 per cent to $1.31 billion from $1.23bn and all of its units performed well, it said in a news release.

VF, whose other brands include Lee Sport, Vanity Fair and Lily of France, added it expects a "strong" first quarter with earnings growth of around 10 per cent and sales up slightly from a year earlier.

Chairman and CEO, Mackey McDonald, said: "2002 was by no means an easy year, but our management team executed our plan extremely well and surpassed many of the targets we set for ourselves.

"We substantially improved our profitability, gained market share in key categories and achieved our long-term return on capital goal of 17 per cent. We're approaching 2003 with confidence in the strength of our brands and with momentum in sales.

"We're looking forward to a year of renewed growth in most of our businesses and record earnings per share. Armed with a cash position of nearly $500m and a low level of debt, we clearly have the flexibility to pursue new avenues for growth."

For the full year, sales slipped to just over $5bn from $5.22bn in 2001. Excluding net restructuring charges in both periods, income rose to $380.9m in 2002 from $306m in 2001, with earnings per share rising 27 per cent to $3.38 from $2.66.