COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Limited Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit soared 90 percent from a year earlier, boosted by a change in merchandising strategy.

The specialty apparel retailer reported Tuesday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped to $120.1 million, or 67 cents a share, from $63.3 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter sales rose to $1.35 billion from $1 billion in the year- earlier period.

The performance in the quarter represents ''the results of merchandising views that started to coalesce in May,'' said Ken Gilman, Limited's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

''We developed strong feelings about fall merchandise during the back-to- school period, and those strong feelings enabled us to position for a strong fourth quarter,'' he said. For the year, the retailer reported net income of $245.1 million, or $1.36 a share, up from $235.2 million, or $1.25 a share, in 1987. Annual sales rose to $4.07 billion from $3.5 billion the previous year.

The company operates 3,381 specialty apparel stores throughout the United States under the names The Limited, Express, Henri Bendel, Victoria's Secret, Lerner, Lane Bryant, Lerner Woman and Abercrombie & Fitch. It also distributes apparel nationally through its Brylane and Victoria's Secret catalogue divisions.