Despite the dismal economy,some fashion firms have managed to achieve growth by eining in expenses,educing debt and of course, delivering a good product.Return on Equity is a measure of a company ’s profitability,calculated as net income divided by shareholder ’s equity.However,it ’s only one indicator.Many variables can affect ROE,including debt;new credit,or any charges or dividends that might negatively affect earnings.Note:Revenue and net income is for the fiscal year ended 12/31/01,unless otherwise noted. Pa entheses indicate a loss.Asterisks denote companies with the same ROE.Stock symbols follow company names.

The 10 Fashion Vendor Issues With the Highest Return on Equity


Columbia Sportswear Co., COLM

Return on Equity: 26.8 percent; 2001 Net income: $88.8 million; 2001 Revenue: $779.6 million

Columbia Sportswear, one of the leading outerwear manufacturers in the world and a top maker of ski wear in the U.S., is expanding its European distribution, which includes opening a second licensed store in Moscow, and developing existing merchandise categories.


Liz Claiborne Inc., LIZ

Return on Equity: 26.5 percent; 2001 Net income: $192.1 million; 2001 Revenue: $3.4 billion

Having tightened up its businesses and balance sheets, Liz Claiborne is in a position to be aggressive in acquiring or investing in new companies, as evidenced by its recent purchase of Ellen Tracy. Some of the company’s other brands include Dana Buchman, Elisabeth, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Lucky Brand and Sigrid Olsen.


Nike Inc., NKE

Return on Equity: 18.1 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 5/31/02): $663 million; Revenue: $9.9 billion

Nike is trying to keep expenses down with the goal of long-term sustainable profit growth. Analysts cite potential in women’s apparel, but consumer demand for high-end basketball sneakers with a sticker price of $185 appears to be waning.


Hampshire Group, HAMP

Return on Equity: 17.1 percent; 2001 Net income: $11.1 million; 2001 Revenues: $236.5 million

Hampshire Group made this list because of its purchase of Item-Eyes Inc., a privately held sportswear company that accounted for $44 million in net sales in 2000 — virtually the entire margin of sales increases.


Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., RL

Return on Equity: 15.7 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 3/30/02): $172.5 million; Revenues: $2.3 billion

Polo Ralph Lauren’s productivity is largely driven by the retail division. According to analysts, full-price stores do an average of $1,000 per square foot and "upwards of an estimated $650 per square foot" for outlet stores.


Reebok International, RBK

Return on Equity: 15.1 percent; 2001 Net income: $102.7 million; 2001 Revenue: $3 billion

Reebok is the number-two athletic shoe maker in the U.S. behind Nike. Its latest marketing strategy is to position itself as a fashion-forward company and improve its earnings per share by 15 percent in 2003.


Kenneth Cole Productions, KCP

Return on Equity: 13.2 percent; 2001 Net income: $16.6 million; 2001 Revenue: $386.1 million

Kenneth Cole’s cost-cutting efforts are beginning to pay off. What’s more, the company’s efforts at product diversification and marketing contributed to better-than-expected second quarter results. On the wholesale side, sell-through remains strong.


Quiksilver, ZQK

Return on Equity: 12.2 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 10/31/01): $28 million; Revenue: $615.5 million

Quiksilver produces casual clothing for young women and men under the Quiksilver, Roxy, Raisins, Radio Fiji, Hawk Clothing and Gotcha (Europe) labels. The company’s retail division is continuing to expand in California, and in September signed a lease to open a Boardriders Club store in Times Square.


Jones Apparel Group, JNY

Return on Equity: 12.1 percent; 2001 Net income: $236.2 million; 2001 Revenue: $4.1 billion

This year, Jones has added the LEI brand of junior moderate jeans and the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans lines, including the junior Glo brand, to its jeans stable, which also includes Polo Jeans Co. The company’s other brands include Joneswear, Evan-Picone, Norton McNaughton, Miss Erika, Energie, Currants, Jamie Scott and Nine & Co.


Perry Ellis International, PERY

Return on Equity: 9.9 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 1/31/02): $6.6 million; Revenues: $279.7 million

Perry Ellis has been lowering its costs and boosting profits in recent years — not a bad formula. The company is banking on the relaunch of its licensed women’s collection this spring to contribute $50 million to the bottom line by the end of 2004.

The 10 Fashion Vendor Issues With the Lowest Return on Equity


Fila Holdings, FLH

Return on Equity: (199.7 percent); 2001 Net loss: ($134.9 million); 2001 Revenue: $940.6 million

Parent company Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali has been trying to sell Fila and its approximately $300 million in debt for more than a year. Last quarter, Fila’s bottom line suffered the greatest damage from a $14.5 million write-off on goodwill.


Russell Corp., RML

Return on Equity: (7.9 percent); 2001 Net loss: ($55.5 million); 2001 Revenue: $1.16 billion

The international apparel company specializing in activewear, casualwear and athletic uniforms, forecasts strong sales, based in part on new and expanded fleece programs at J.C. Penney and Sam’s Club.


Tarrant Apparel Group, TAGS

Return on Equity: (4.2 percent); 2001 Net loss: ($2.9 million); 2001 Revenue: $330 million

Tarrant, a provider of private label casual apparel that primarily serves specialty retailers and mass merchants, is taking the final step towards vertical integration. It has agreed in principle to purchase a twill mill factory with an annual capacity of 18 million yards.


Guess, GES

Return on Equity: (4.2 percent); 2001 Net income: $6.2 million; 2001 Revenue: $677.6 million

Earlier this month, Guess announced that it had entered into a new $85 million asset-based secured-credit facility, arranged by Wachovia Securities. The new four-year agreement replaces an existing facility with JP Morgan Chase.


G-III Apparel Group, GIII

Return on Equity: (4.1 percent); 2001 Net income (fiscal year ending 1/31/02): $2.4 million; Revenue: $201.4 million

G-III designs, manufactures, imports and markets leather and nonleather apparel under private retail and licensed labels. Last quarter, the company’s net income plummeted 85.2 percent to $576,000, as revenues shriveled 36.4 percent to $40 million.


LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, LVMHY

Return on Equity: 0.1 percent; 2001 Net income: $8.7 million at then current exchange rates; 2001 Revenue: $11.9 billion LVMH reported a total net loss of $1.05 billion due to accounting changes, specifically the U.S. GAAP adjustment in connection with a goodwill writedown at DFS. In April, Standard and Poor’s rated LVMH’s creditworthiness, giving it a "BBB-plus," a single notch below an "A" rating.


Tefron, TFR

Return on Equity: 2.7 percent; 2001 Net loss: ($10 million); 2001 Revenue: $188.9 million

Tefron Ltd. manufactures seamless intimate apparel sold by Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Banana Republic, Target, Nike and DKNY. In the first half of the year, the company took an $18.8 million one-time, after-tax accounting adjustment.


Movie Star Inc., MSI

Return on Equity: 3.4 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 6/30/02): $547,000; Revenue: $54.4 million

Movie Star designs, manufactures, markets and sells ladies’ sleepwear, robes, leisurewear, loungewear, panties and daywear. Last year’s results included a pre-tax loss of nearly $1.2 million, related to the closure of a distribution facility and offset by an income tax benefit of $888,000.


Gildan Activewear Inc., GIL

Return on Equity: 3.7 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 9/30/01): $500,000; Revenue: $520.6 million

Gildan, which manufactures and sells basic activewear principally for the wholesale imprinted sportswear market, raised its earnings per share for the full fiscal year to between $1.35 and $1.39 per diluted share.


Nautica Enterprises Inc., NAUT

Return on Equity: 4 percent; Net income (fiscal year ending 3/2/03): $17.3 million; Revenue: 692.1 million

Charges in the third quarter will impact profitability; Nautica expects to take an after-tax charge of $6 million to $6.5 million for closing its Rockefeller Plaza store in Manhattan. The company is terminating its licensing agreement with swimwear manufacturer Apparel Ventures Inc. in June.


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