By  on May 14, 2007

NEW YORK — Maidenform Brands Inc. posted first-quarter results that reflected a solid performance in profits and sales.

For the three months ended March 31, income jumped 69.6 percent, to $10.6 million, or 44 cents a diluted share, from $6.2 million, or 26 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales gained 6.3 percent, to $107.2 million from $100.8 million.

Same-store sales for Maidenform's outlet stores fell 4 percent due to reduced customer traffic, and Internet sales grew 28.6 percent, to $900,000 in the quarter.

Thomas Ward, chief executive officer, said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts that sales growth was driven by momentum in the mass merchant business, which grew 49.7 percent.

"Such growth was fueled by the strength of our Sweet Nothings brand, with full-figure bras, strapless bras and shapewear leading the way," Ward said. "Our international division also produced strong results with sales up 33.3 percent."

Some suppliers have complained about the merger of Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores, but Maidenform is not one of them.

"We're satisfied with the relationship we have with Federated," Ward said. "We expect good things going forward with Maidenform, Flexees and Lilyette. Overall, business has been good with them."

Maurice Reznik, Maidenform's president, said in an interview, "The shapewear business is very strong. There are new users in the category."

Reznik said the new users were young consumers and the company was launching a new product line called "Control It" that will target the more contemporary end user.

"We're very bullish on the shape category," he said. "We see that trend continuing."

Margaret Mager, analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a research note: "We continue to be encouraged by the reiteration of management's fiscal year 2007 guidance, which calls for 6 to 7 percent revenue growth. Wholesale branded revenues are expected to increase [by] double digits, driven by new product introductions, line extensions and increased customer penetration. Mass channel sales will ultimately be boosted by a re-intensified Self Expressions line at Target, following a shift to private label in 2006, but in the near term, we expect some of this benefit to be offset by reduced private label sales."The company introduced the Smooth Bra in February and rolled out two Lilyette styles incorporating technology from the Smooth Bra. Based on initial sales, Maidenform said it expected the Smooth Collection to be another key franchise.

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