Regional supermarket chain Pathmark Stores has reported earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter to 1 February of US$7.9m, compared with a year-ago loss of $58.6m, helped by cost controls and productivity improvements.

Pathmark said its fourth-quarter sales were $1.0bn, roughly the same as the year-ago period, while same-store sales dropped 1.6%.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects earnings to rise in 2003 on cost cuts and job cuts. Same-store sales are forecasted to remain flat or improve slightly.

Pathmark, which operates 143 supermarkets mainly in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia areas, said it plans to reduce costs by cutting administrative and store-level positions. The company expects to open three new stores during the year and close one store.