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LOS ANGELES-Guess? Inc. is shifting its expansion outside the US, executives said at the company’s fourth quarter conference call. The company will open 15 stores here and 126 in Europe and Asia, said Paul Marciano, chief executive officer. Last year, Guess opened 57 stores and closed five units in the U.S.

“We are currently funding only committed retail deals in North America and Europe,” Marciano said. The focus will be on markets such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Russia and other “underpenetrated markets.”

China also provides significant opportunity.

“We have barely started in China,” Marciano said. “The biggest challenge we encounter there is the size of the country.”

Management will be visiting the country twice in the next three months to explore secondary cities, beyond Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. A strong possibility is a joint venture to assist with expanding in the country.

For the quarter, the company reported total net revenue $561.1 million, up 9% from the prior fourth-quarter period. North American comparable-store sales decreased 6.5%. Net earnings were $47.9 million, down 13.2% compared with $55.2 million for the year-ago quarter.

Total net revenue for fiscal year 2009 was $2.09 billion, up 19.6% from $1.75 billion in the prior year. North American comparable store sales increased 1%. Net earnings were $213.6 million, up 14.5% from the previous year.

As of January 31, Guess?, Inc. operated 425 retail stores in the United States and Canada and 690 retail stores outside of North America, of which 96 were directly owned.

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