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Levi Strauss 4Q profit up 20 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Levi Strauss & Co. reported Thursday that its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue declined but profit was up 20 percent, largely on lower tax expenses.

The San Francisco-based company, which is privately owned, is one of the world's best-known apparel brands. However, it has struggled with the ups and downs of the economies in countries where it sells its products.

Levi Strauss announced last quarter that it would license the Levi's brand boys business in the Americas and phase out the Denizen brand in Asia. Those decisions, along with weakening economic conditions in Asia, helped send its revenue for the fourth quarter down 3 percent to $1.3 billion. Although it did get a boost from increased sales in company-operated stores in the Americas and Europe.

The company's net income for the period increased to $53 million from $44 million. It got a boost from a tax benefit of $27 million booked in the fourth quarter after reaching an agreement with the state of California on state tax refund claims over a several year period.

Levi Strauss earned $144 million for its 2012 fiscal year versus $138 million last year. Its annual revenue fell to $4.61 billion from $4.76 billion.

"In 2012, we made some tough choices and executed significant changes to set the company on a path towards driving sustainable profitable growth," Chip Bergh, president and CEO, said in a statement. "We have a largely new leadership team, sharper strategies and a new organization model designed to win in the marketplace."

Levi Strauss sells its products in more than 2,300 franchised and company-owned stores worldwide as well as department stores and other retailers.