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said fourth-quarter earnings rose 28% as comparable-store sales increased 4.5%.

Kohl's said fourth-quarter earnings were $431 million, or $1.40 a share, up from $336 million, or $1.10 a share, a year earlier.

Net sales were $5.7 billion, an increase of 8.5% from the same period a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the retailer to earn $1.37 a share in the quarter on sales of $5.62 billion.

Kohl's expects first-quarter earnings of 48 cents to 52 cents a share and fiscal-year earnings of $3.40 to $3.63 a share. These estimates assume a total sales increase of 4% to 6% and a same-store sales rise of 1% to 3% for both the quarter and fiscal year.

Analysts expect first-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share.

Kohl's ended the fiscal year with 1,058 stores. Kohl's expects to open about 30 stores and remodel 85 over the next fiscal year.

Kohl's said free cash flow in fiscal 2009 was $1.6 billion, up from free cash flow a year earlier of $684 million.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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