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VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) saw its third quarter net earnings ending Sept. 30, increase 28 percent to a record $1.15 from 90 cents in the prior year’s third quarter. Earnings increased 25 percent to $128.6 million from $103.2 million in last year’s period. Sales were $1.40 billion, slightly down from 2001’s 1.41 billion. For the first nine months of 2002, earnings per share rose 20 percent to $2.60 from $2.17 in last year’s comparable period. Including discontinued operations, earnings per share for the 2002 period were $2.62 versus the $2.17 reported in 2001. Earnings in the nine-month period increased 18 percent to $296.1 million from $250.4 million in the prior year’s nine-month period. Despite a challenging retail environment, VF reported that sales in the quarter were about even with the prior year level and its outdoor brands are performing well in Europe. International sales of the outdoor brands, including The North Face, Eastpak and JanSport, increased 14 percent in the quarter and 4 percent on a currency adjusted basis. Sales in VF’s domestic outdoor businesses were flat, though. VF Corp. said it continues to see positive results from this year’s cost- containment moves, which included factory closures mainly in its jeanswear business. It expects expenses related to the measures to reduce earnings by about 20 cents