Foot Locker ( FL) was off and running in the fourth quarter, posting a 42% jump in per share earnings from continuing operations.

The company earned $71 million, or 47 cents a share, in the quarter on $1.33 billion in sales. In the year-ago period, the shoe retailer earned $57 million, or 39 cents a share, on sales of $1.21 billion. But the fourth quarter of 2002 included $9 million, or 6 cents a share, in earnings from the company's discontinued operations.

The company's bottom line topped Wall Street's forecast. Analysts surveyed by Reuters' MultexNet service were looking for 45 cents a share in earnings on sales of $1.32 billion.

But the company warned that 2004 might not be as good as analysts expect. Foot Locker projects that its earnings per share will grow 10% to 20% in the first quarter and for the full year on a mid- to high single-digit percentage increase in sales for the year. That guidance implies a range of 29 cents to 31 cents in per share earnings in the first quarter and a range of $1.54 to $1.68 in per share profits for the full year.

Wall Street is expecting the company to earn 34 cents a share in the first quarter on $1.21 billion in sales. For the full year, Wall Street is looking for earnings of $1.63 a share -- or 2 cents above the midpoint of Foot Locker's guidance -- on sales of $5.06 billion.

Foot Locker reported after the bell Tuesday. In after-hours trading, the company's shares were off 72 cents, or 2.7%, to $26.20; the company's stock closed regular trading off 8 cents, or 0.3%, to $26.92.

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