Upscale leather goods maker Coach Inc on Tuesday posted a whopping 80 per cent surge in fourth quarter profit from the year-ago period as it was boosted by soaring sales of its fashionable handbags.

The New York-based firm posted net income for the quarter ended June 28 of $29.9 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, compared with $16.6m, or 18 cents per share, in the prior year, as sales jumped 35 per cent to $231.5m from $171.4m.

For the fiscal year, the firm reported a 67 per cent leap in net profit, excluding reorganisation charges, of $146.6m from $88m last year with sales up by a third to $953.2m from $719.4m in 2002.

Coach said fourth quarter same-store sales jumped 21.6 per cent with retail store sales up 37.1 per cent and factory store sales up 3.6 per cent.

Direct to consumer sales rose 31 per cent to $139.9m from $106.5m with indirect sales up 41 per cent to $91.6m from $64.9m on the back of strong demand by its Japanese unit which enjoyed double-digit same-store sales increases amid an "outstanding" performance by its new stores.

It added July results remained strong with first quarter sales are projected to be at least $230m, an increase of at least 19 per cent, with earnings per share projected to be at least 33 cents.

Coach also raised guidance for fiscal 2004 and now estimates sales of at least $1.1 billion for the year, a rise of at least 16 per cent.

Chairman and CEO, Lew Frankfort, said: "Naturally, I'm extremely pleased with our fiscal fourth quarter and full year results. This quarter's performance demonstrated the remarkable momentum that we have seen throughout the year, as our market share continues to expand.

"We saw excellent fourth quarter performance across our distribution channels, continuing the growth we have enjoyed in our full priced businesses. In US retail, our well received spring and summer offerings, both in new and enduring collections, clearly drove top-line results.

"Coach footwear, which was available in many more of our retail stores this spring was particularly well received. All of these offerings and categories have demonstrated that they are platforms for sustainable growth in the seasons ahead."

He added: "Fiscal 2003 was another successful year for our company, as we generated truly superior results on all metrics. Our performance reflected the increasing vitality of the Coach brand, and the relevance of the product offering across all of our business units."