Jeans maker Levi Strauss on Thursday revealed narrower fourth quarter net losses boosted by better sales of premium-priced products in Europe and Asia, lower foreign exchange losses, and lower interest and tax expenses.

The San Francisco-based firm said net loss was $19 million, down from a net loss of $245 million in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Fourth quarter net sales fell 3 per cent to $1,157 million from $1,198 million in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Gross profit for the quarter improved $83 million to $507 million, or 43.8 per cent of net sales, from $424 million, or 35.4 per cent of sales for the same period of 2003.

The company said its 2004 full-year results reflect stronger financial performance across a range of key financial measures compared to the prior year.

In fiscal 2004, the company delivered $30 million in net income, compared with a net loss of $349 million in 2003.

Full-year net sales stabilised at $4.1 billion. Reported net sales results were driven by sales growth in the Asia Pacific region, sales growth for the Levi Strauss Signature brand and stronger foreign currencies.

However, these results were offset by the company's product rationalisation work, including its decisions to license certain products, discontinue underperforming categories, reduce sales in the warehouse club and off-price channels, and lower net sales performance in Europe and the US Dockers brand.

"2004 was a year when across all fronts we made substantial progress against our goals," said Phil Marineau, chief executive officer.

"We improved the profitability of the company, increased our margins and stabilized sales.

"The strategic actions we took in the second half of 2003 and continued throughout 2004 to reduce costs, consolidate sales and fortify our core businesses have improved our financial strength. We begin 2005 with a healthier and more competitive business."