True Religion Apparel Inc. reported 43 percent higher profit in its fourth quarter, but forecast a weaker 2009 than Wall Street expected.

After the markets closed Wednesday, the Vernon premium denim maker reported net income of $12.7 million (53 cents per share), compared with $8.9 million (37 cents) a year ago. Sales rose 39 percent to $73 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected earnings of 47 cents per share on revenue of $68.7 million.

"We attribute our strong performance to our ability to successfully leverage our expanding product collection across distribution channels," said Chief Executive Jeffrey Lubell in a statement. "Despite the continued uncertainty in the direction of the economic and consumer environment, we are confident that we are appropriately resourced and positioned to respond to business developments, and evolve our operating and growth strategy, as necessary."

For fiscal 2009, True Religion said it expects earnings of $1.73 to $1.81 per share and revenue between $290 million and $297 million. The company expects sales to boutiques by its U.S. wholesale division to fall by 17 to 19 percent. The company also expects to open 25 branded retail stores this year.

Analysts were forecasting $1.82 per share profit on revenue of $295 million.

True Religion shares closed down $2.71, or 20 percent, to $10.82 in Thursday trading on the Nasdaq.

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