Fashion retailer H&M posts 12 pct rise in 4Q profit, plans 400 new stores this year

MarketsAssociated Press

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz says its earnings rose by 12 percent in the fourth quarter, boosted by expansion in the United States and China.

Net profit for the quarter was 6.22 billion Swedish kronor ($754 million), up from 5.55 billion kronor a year earlier. Sales increased 17 percent to 42.6 billion kronor.

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H&M said Wednesday it opened 379 stores last year, and plans to open about 400 more this year, mostly in the U.S. and China but also in new markets including India, South Africa, Peru, Taiwan and Macau.

The fast-expanding company now has more than 3,500 stores worldwide, and 132,000 employees.

H&M's full-year profit rose 17 percent to 19.98 billion kronor.

H&M's share price dropped 2 percent in early trading in Stockholm to 331.40 kronor.