Updated from 4:27 p.m. EST

Catching a wave of sales,

Pacific Sunwear


scored a big earnings increase in its fourth quarter, the company reported on Monday.

In its quarter ended Feb. 1, the clothing retailer earned $23.21 million, or 46 cents per share, on $265.59 million sales. In the year ago period, Pacific Sunwear earned $14.16 million, or 28 cents a share, on $207.61 million in sales.

Wall Street had been expecting Pacific Sunwear to earn 44 cents per share on $262.99 million in sales, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Financial/First Call.

For the year, the company earned $49.68 million, or 99 cents a share, on $846.39 million in sales. In its 2001 fiscal year, Pacific Sunwear earned $27.57 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $684.84 million.

Not only did Pacific Sunwear boost its overall sales by 28%, but its same-store sales rose rapidly also, climbing 15.6% in the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Widely watched as an indicator of company performance and market share changes, same-store sales compare results at shops open more than one year.

Pacific Sunwear also managed to keep costs in check during the quarter. The Anaheim, Calif.-based company saw its gross profit margin increase from 33.36% of sales in the year ago quarter to 35.77% in the just completed quarter. Gross margin measures the difference between what a company charges or its products and what it pays for them. An expanding gross margin indicates that a company is either able to charge more for its products or is able to pay less for them or both.

Meanwhile, the company also kept down its marketing and administrative costs. Such costs decreased as a portion of sales from 22.35% in the year ago quarter to 21.58% in the just completed quarter.

"Our goal of improving our financial performance and operating margins is very much on track," said Greg Weaver, the company's chief executive officer, in a statement.

At the end of its fiscal year, Pacific Sunwear operated 794 stores nationwide and in Puerto Rico. The company plans to expand its square footage by 12% in fiscal 2003.

In trading Monday Pacific Sunwear ended higher, up 6 cents, or 0.3%, to $17.77. After hours shares were rising an additional 2.4%.