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Nov 21 (Reuters) - Canadian clothing maker Gildan Activewear Inc reported a 9 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, helped by lower cotton prices and higher sales in its printwear business.
Montreal-based Gildan, which supplies T-shirts and other basic clothing items to screen-printers, raised its quarterly dividend to 10.8 cents per share from 9 cents.
The company also makes private-label and branded socks for mass-market retailers, but has been shifting its focus to its own brands such as Gildan underwear and Gold Toe socks.
Gildan forecast lower-than-expected earnings for the current quarter, saying the first half of fiscal 2014 would be hurt by higher cotton costs. The September-December quarter is the seasonally weakest period for its printwear business.
The company said it expected first-quarter earnings of 33 cents to 35 cents per share, below the average analysts' estimate of 42 cents.
Gildan's 2014 profit forecast of $3.00-$3.10 per share also fell short of the average estimate of $3.15.
Still, Gildan said it expected net sales of $450 million for the current quarter, well above the average analyst estimate of $380 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Gildan, whose competitors include Hanesbrands Inc and L Brands Inc, said its printwear sales rose 12.5 percent to $423.9 million in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30.
Net income rose to $96.8 million, or 79 cents per share, from $89 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted profit was 83 cents per share, in line with analysts estimates.
Gildan's shares had risen about 41 percent this year up to Wednesday's close of C$51.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.