Babywear maker Carter's Inc has posted a sharp rise in fourth quarter net income on sales helped by new store openings at both Wal-Mart and Target.

Profit at the branded marketer of children's apparel was $15.0 million, or $0.50 per diluted share as compared to $1.6 million, or $0.06 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003.

Net sales in the fourth quarter increased 25.3 per cent to $232.7 million from $185.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003. The increase in net sales was driven by growth in all channels the company said.

Net income for fiscal 2004 was $49.7 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, as compared to $23.3 million, or $0.92 per diluted share for fiscal 2003.

Net sales for fiscal 2004 increased 16.9 per cent to $823.1 million from $703.8 million for fiscal 2003.

Fred Rowan, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Carter's said: "We have achieved record results in all channels of distribution by strengthening the Carter's brand, focusing on high-quality, essential core products and successfully building our presence in the mass channel."

Fourth quarter sales to the mass channel increased $16.8 million, or 76.0 per cent, from $22.2 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 to $39.0 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004.

Also contributing to this growth was an increase in wholesale sales of $16.5 million, or 18.0 per cent, from $91.3 million to $107.8 million and an increase in retail store sales of $13.7 million, or 19.0 per cent, from $72.2 million to $85.9 million.

The increase in retail store sales was driven by a 13.0 per cent increase in same store sales and incremental revenue from new store openings. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004, the company opened three stores.