Rapid expansion helped push Cosmetic & Fragrance Concepts Inc.'s earnings up 25 percent during its latest fiscal year, the Beltsville company said yesterday.

Profits for the 18-store discount cosmetics retailer rose to just over $1 million in the year ended Sept. 26, from $834,000 a year ago.

Earnings per share, however, slipped from 37 cents to 33 cents because the company had 36 percent more shares outstanding this year.

Sales for the year rose by 27 percent, to $44.5 million from $34.9 million.

"Sales and earnings for the year reflect the rapid expansion of our retail operations from 10 to 16 stores over the last 23 months and steadily improving sales and profits in the second half of the year," said Chairman Louis R. Weinstein.

The company has added two more stores in Chicago since the end of the fiscal year, and plans to have an even larger presence there than in the Washington metropolitan area, where it has 10 stores.

The company also has stores in Richmond and Baltimore.

For the fourth quarter, Cosmetic and Fragrance Concepts reported a 79 percent increase in earnings, with a profit of $354,000 (11 cents per share), compared with a profit of $197,000 (6 cents) in the corresponding quarter last year.

Sales for the quarter increased 27 percent, to $11.5 million from $8.9 million.

Strategic Planning Associates, a Washington-based management consulting firm, said a 45 percent increase in revenue led to a 53 percent rise in profit for the company's latest fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31.

Profit for the year totaled $4 million ($1.05), up from $2.6 million (77 cents) the previous year.

Revenue for the year was $40.9 million, up from $28.3 million the previous year.

For the fourth quarter, profit was $1.2 million (31 cents), up 30 percent from the previous year's quarter, when profit was $837,000 (25 cents).

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $11 million, a 30 percent increase over last year's revenue of $8.5 million