Hanesbrands Inc. said earnings tripled in the first quarter, boosted by cost-cutting initiatives that offset weak sales in a tough retail environment.

This story first appeared in the April 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended March 29, earnings reached $36 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, up from $12 million, or 12 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items, earnings were 42 cents, up from 15 cents last year. Sales for the quarter fell 5 percent to $987.8 million from $1.04 billion, as a result of a pull back in consumer spending.

“The key to our success is the continued execution of our business strategies of investing in our brands, driving cost reductions and globalizing our supply chain, and effectively investing our cash flow,” said Richard A. Noll, chief executive officer.

Operating profit in the quarter increased to $87.8 million from $68.9 million a year ago.

“We are pleased with our ability to execute cost reductions to deliver our solid profit performance. We are now focused on executing sales and marketing plans for the rest of the year, particularly for the important back-to-school and year-end holiday periods, to best navigate a challenging consumer environment,” Noll said.

The company’s innerwear and outerwear segments saw a decline, but the international business increased 15 percent, driven by favorable foreign currency exchange rates and growth.

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