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reported fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed analysts' expectations, helped by strong performances at its


unit and athletic segments, and maintained its projections for 2001 earnings.

The Mahwah, N.J., shoe retailer earned $19.5 million, or 95 cents a share, before restructuring charges, compared with $17.2 million, or 82 cents a share, in the same period last year. Seven analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

expected fourth-quarter earnings of 91 cents a share.

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Sales for the quarter rose 25.1% to $615.3 million from $491.7 million last year, as same-store sales for the quarter grew 8.2%. Meldisco's same-store sales rose 9.0%, while its athletic segment's comparable store sales rose by 6.4%.

Last week, Footstar said January

same-store sales fell 7.1%. Yesterday, the company said it completed the $59.0 million acquisition of

J. Baker's

footwear assets.

The company said today that it still expects full-year 2001 earnings of $3.60 to $3.66, ahead of the consensus estimate of $3.59 a share. For the first quarter, Footstar sees earnings of 4 cents to 6 cents a share, compared with 14 cents a share a year ago. This range falls below the consensus estimate of 10 cents a share.

Footstar lately traded up $2.57, or 6.3%, to $43.30 in afternoon trading on the

New York Stock Exchange