Jeans-led apparel operator Levi Strauss & Co has hailed a "solid" 2008 despite recording a 77% slump in fourth quarter net income.

Revenues for the three months ended 30 November edged up 1% to US$1.271bn, but a $215m income tax benefit in 2007 contributed to a 77% plunge in net income to $62m.

However, the company pointed out that fourth quarter revenues had risen 4% excluding currency effects, reflecting sales growth for its Levi's brand in Asia Pacific emerging markets, Japan and the Americas.

Full-year revenues were up 1% to $4.401bn, but fell 1% on a constant currency basis.

Increased retail sales were more than offset by a weak retail environment in the US and other markets in Europe and Asia Pacific, as well as lower sales of the Dockers brand and shipping issues related to its US ERP software implementation.

"In the context of an extraordinarily difficult economic environment, Levi Strauss & Co delivered solid financial performance for 2008," said John Anderson, president and CEO.

"Levi's brand revenues grew in each of our regions, demonstrating its ability to perform even in tough economic times.

"Looking ahead, we expect the year to be difficult. The outlook remains uncertain and we face stiff headwinds.

"With this in mind, we will focus on maintaining strong liquidity, containing costs and investing strategically in our brands to build market share so we are well-positioned when market conditions improve."

The company posted fourth quarter gross profit of $625m, compared to $595m in 2007, while operating income fell to $143m from $190m.

For the full year, gross profit increased to $2.140bn from $2.042bn in 2007, while operating profit was down to $525m from $641m.