Talbots Up, Williams-Sonoma Slips

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Talbots Inc. reported yesterday that profits more than doubled despite signs of a weak economy, while home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. said profits for the fourth quarter fell 9 percent.

Williams-Sonoma's slip was a result of a tough holiday season, which prompted the retailer to apply deep markdowns to clear the way for its spring inventory.

The company reported a net income of $44.5 million for the quarter, which ended Jan. 28, down from $48.7 million a year earlier. Williams-Sonoma, San Francisco, operates Williams-Sonoma, Grand Cuisine, Pottery Barn and Hold Everything stores and catalogs.

Talbots, however, was enjoying its gain and moved merchandise with few markdowns, despite a dismal retail climate.

The Hingham, MA, company reported that net income for the fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 3, rose to $33 million from $15.3 million a year ago.

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