By  on March 4, 2010

Shares of Maidenform Brands Inc. rose nearly 11 percent Wednesday after the intimate apparel manufacturer posted fourth-quarter profits that, aided by higher sales to value retailers, tripled from a year ago.

For the three months ended Jan. 2, net income was $7.7 million, or 32 cents a diluted share, 12 cents higher than the 20-cent consensus estimate reported by Yahoo Finance, and up from $2.4 million, or 10 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Sales rose 15.1 percent to $109.1 million from $94.8 million. The company said sales in the wholesale segment, which sells to department stores and national chain stores, fell 4.5 percent to $44.5 million, while sales to the mass channel gained 17.6 percent to $24.7 million. Sales to specialty stores and off-pricers more than doubled to $26.4 million from $12.3 million. Retail sales decreased 8.1 percent to $13.6 million, with same-store sales declining 12 percent at Maidenform’s outlet units.

For the year, earnings jumped 49.6 percent to $37 million, or $1.56 a diluted share, as sales climbed 12.7 percent to $466.3 million.

Shares closed at $19.85, up $1.95, or 10.9 percent, in Wednesday’s New York Stock Exchange session and reached a new 52-week high of $19.99 in intraday trading.

Maurice Reznik, chief executive officer, said on a conference call that the firm recently completed a five-year strategic plan, which includes targeting “annual sales growth of 10 percent for our brand and wholesale business and a plus-15 percent in EPS over the life of the plan.”

Among the goals of the so-called “5-10-5 plan,” according to Reznik, are “continued exposure of the shapewear globally; continued expansion of our business in the mass channel; materially growing our international sales; leveraging and driving growth for Donna Karan and DKNY, and developing new businesses and investing for the future.”

The company said it expects first-quarter earnings per share in the range of 30 cents to 41 cents, compared with 26 cents in the first quarter of 2009.

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