By  on October 26, 2009

Delta Apparel Inc. soared 24.2 percent Friday after it saw its first-quarter profits more than triple on improved sales and margins.

In the three months ended Sept. 26, the Greenville, S.C.-based vendor recorded net income of $2.6 million, or 30 cents a diluted share. The results were an improvement from a year ago, when first-quarter earnings totaled $674,000, or 8 cents a share.

Revenues in the period grew 8.4 percent to $99.1 million from $91.4 million in the prior year.

The manufacturer said sales in its retail-ready category, which includes its Soffe, Junkfood and To The Game brands, increased 25.5 percent to $52 million. The To The Game headwear business, which Delta acquired a quarter ago, added $6 million to overall revenues, the company said. Sales at its activewear division, which houses its FunTees and catalogue businesses, fell 5.7 percent to $47.1 million.

Delta’s overall gross margin grew by 280 basis points in the quarter to 23.9 percent versus 21.1 percent in the comparable period last year.

“While the retail demand for apparel remained weak during the September quarter, we believe we achieved market share gains in all of our business units,” said Robert Humphreys, chairman, president and chief executive officer, on a conference call. Humphreys added the firm reduced inventories and improved inventory turns in the quarter, an objective the company will focus on for the year.

The firm said it expects net sales in the range of $360 million to $380 million and earnings per share between 80 cents and $1.00 for the whole of fiscal 2010.

Shares of Delta closed on Friday at $9.65, up $1.88.

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