Women's fashion retailer Cato Corp has posted a preliminary net income increase of 54 per cent to $8.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Fourth-quarter sales totalled $207.9m compared to sales of $193.1m in the same period in 2003, while same-store sales rose 3 per cent.
Full-year 2004 net income increased 12 per cent to $34.6m. Full-year sales totalled $773.8m compared to sales of $731.8m in the 2003 period.

Cato said it beat its goal of 10 per cent earnings growth for 2004, as well as opening 80 new store throughout the year, boosting its merchandising organisation structuring and continuing its investment in technology.

The Cato Corporation is a leading specialty retailer of value-priced women's fashion apparel operating the Cato and It's Fashion! divisions in the US.