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NEW YORK — Hanesbrands Inc. on Thursday posted first-quarter results that were lower than a year ago due to the firm’s new, independent structure following its spin-off in September 2006 from Sara Lee Corp.

Net income for the quarter ended March 31 was $12 million, or 12 cents a diluted share, which compares with $74.6 million, or 77 cents, in the same year-ago period. Total net sales inched up 0.7 percent, to $1.04 billion from $1.03 billion.

The company said growth in the outerwear segment resulted from double-digit gains for Champion activewear and increases for Hanes casualwear. Inner­wear sales were essentially flat for the period.

“Our performance was on track with our expectations for the quarter,” chief executive officer Richard A. Noll said in a statement.

“We increased sales, made strategic advances in operations and generated cash for investment in our business. We are off to a solid start in our first full year, which is the foundation for achieving our long-term growth goals,” Noll continued.

The company explained in a statement that it sustained costs in the quarter associated with being an independent firm (separate from Sara Lee) that it didn’t have last year, adding that it was also benefitting from past cost-reduction efforts and continued progress with its global supply chain strategy of moving production to lower-cost countries.

Hanesbrands made a voluntary $42 million pension contribution in the quarter, reducing the company’s underfunded liability for qualified pensions to $131 million. With the contribution, the company’s qualified pension plan liability is now 84 percent funded, meeting the firm’s 2007 goal.

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.