Athletic apparel maker Russell Corp has posted an increase in fourth-quarter sales, but says profit during the period slipped 29 per cent due to charges that hampered its bottom line trading.

The company reported a 10.5 per cent rise in sales for the fourth quarter of 2004 to $334.0 million, which reflected a 3 per cent rise in continued businesses, as well as approximately $22m in incremental sales from acquisitions owned for less than a year.

Jack Ward, chairman and chief executive officer, said that recent acquisitions had pushed up its Athletic sales, and that the International apparel segment saw sales grow by over 20 per cent.

He added that the Activewear Group had a 3 per cent increase in revenues, driven by the Jerzees sports apparel in the mass channel.

Fourth-quarter earnings totalled $10.3m compared to the $14.5m reported last year. The Earnings include charges of around 6 cents per share from Russell's acquisition of Huffy Sports Co, and severance and expenses connected to compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley accounting regulations.

The company's full-year earnings grew to $47.9m from $43m last year, while sales grew 9 per cent to $1.3 billion from $1.19bn the year before.

Russell predicts a 20 per cent growth in sales for the first quarter of 2005, and sales of between $1.5 billion and $1.52bn for the full fiscal year.