Novell Inc.said net sales were $85.60 million for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 29, an increase of 49 percent over net sales of $57.27 million for the same period last year.

Fourth quarter net income was $5.58 million, compared with net income of $6,279,000 for the similar period in fiscal 1987. Net income per share was 20 cents for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1988, vs. 23 cents for the corresponding period in fiscal 1987.Net sales for the year ended Oct. 29, were $281.15 million, a 54 percent gain over net sales of $182.80 million in fiscal 1987. Including an inventory write-down, net income for fiscal 1988 increased 50 percent to $30.43 million, compared with $20.33 million in fiscal 1987. Net income per share for fiscal 1988 was $1.10, compared with 78 cents in fiscal 1987.

"Over the next few quarters, we expect to see margins improve as we accelerate the company's shift out of the hardware side of the business," said Raymond J. Noorda, president and chief executive officer.

"During fiscal 1988, more than 60 percent of sales were comprised of software products, reflecting strong demand for our high-performance LAN connectivity products."

Shipments of software products represented 65 percent of revenues during the fourth quarter, compared with 61 percent of revenues during the third quarter, 58 percent during the second quarter, and 55 percent during the first quarter.