Neiman Marcus Group

(NMGA)

had a profitable fourth quarter that beat analyst estimates thanks to tight inventory control and expense management.

The company earned $5 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with last year's loss of $21 million, or 44 cents a share. Analysts had predicted the company would earn 8 cents a share.

Revenue was $666 million, compared with $636 million in the year-ago period.

The shares were up 28 cents to $30.15.

Looking ahead, the company expects a fall season where comparable-store sales improve to the "low to mid single digit range." It also expects gross margins to improve over the first half of 2003, as compared with last year. Analysts have predicted the company would earn 68 cents a share in its first quarter and $2.47 a share for the year.

Additionally, the company said it realigned its different business segments during the quarter to reflect current operating strategies. Its online business segment, previously included in the "other" business segment, is now included in the "direct marketing" segment.