CARTERET, N.J. -- Cost reductions and improvements in merchandising helped Pathmark Stores here report a quarterly profit for the first time in three years. The retailer, soon to be acquired by A&P, posted net income of $1.7 million on sales of $1.08 billion during the 14-week fiscal fourth quarter ended Feb. 3. Pathmark lost $14.6 million in the 13-week fourth quarter a year ago, and had not turned a quarterly profit since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003. Sales for the quarter increased by 0.6% when adjusted for the extra week. Quarterly same-store sales increased by 1.2%. Sales for the 53-week fiscal year were $4.06 billion, flat as compared with fiscal 2005‘s $3.93 billion when adjusted for 52 weeks. Same-store sales increased by 0.4% for the year.