Teen retailer The Buckle managed a double-digit increase in fourth quarter profitability that meshed with analysts' expectations.

For the 14 weeks ended 3 February, net income for the Kearney, Nebraska-based specialty chain rose 15.3% to US$22.1m, or 73 cents a diluted share, matching analysts' expectations. Year-ago net income was $19.1m, or 64 cents.

Sales were up 14.1% to $175m from $153.4m in the 13-week 2005 quarter. Same-store sales increased 4.8% against the comparable 14-week period during 2005.

Gross margin was up to 43.2% of sales during the period from 41.9% in the final quarter of 2005.

Figures have been adjusted to reflect Buckle's 3-for-2 stock split paid in the form of a stock dividend on 12 January.

Full-year net income was $55.7m, or $1.86 a diluted share, 7.4% above the $51.9m, or $1.69, reported for 2005. Revenues were up 5.6% to $530.1m from $501.1m although comparable-store sales were flat.

The Buckle operates 350 casual apparel and footwear stores for young men and women. The store count for the year increased by 10.

Buckle reported last week that its comparable-store sales in February were up 4.5%.
By Arnold J Karr.