ATHLETIC APPAREL CITED AS EARNINGS DECLINE 8.5% IN QUARTER AT RUSSELL

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala.--As expected, the poor performance of Russell Athletic apparel and licensed products dragged first-quarter profits at Russell Corp. down 8.5 percent.
In the quarter ended April 2, earnings fell to $12.2 million, or 31 cents a share, from $13.4 million, or 33 cents, a year ago. Sales grew 7.2 percent to $248.3 million from $232.1 million.
Last month, the maker of activewear, fleecewear and T-shirts said profits for the latest quarter would fall below last year by 3 to 5 cents a share.
Tony Meyer, treasurer, in a telephone interview, attributed the decline to slow reorder rates in the Russell Athletic division during January and February. He added that the licensed apparel was hurt by "soft pricing" and an overabundance of products in the market. In addition, Meyer said, the baseball strike continued to hamper profits.
John C. Adams, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said that the lower-than-planned sales and earnings in Russell Athletic and licensed products offset gains in the firm's core T-shirt and fleece business.

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