MCNAUGHTON NET SOARS

NEW YORK — Strong sales performances at all divisions, coupled with reduced closeout activity, pushed net income at McNaughton Apparel Group ahead dramatically in the fourth quarter and year.
For the fourth quarter ended Nov. 4, net income was $7.3 million, or 70 cents a diluted share, 46.8 percent higher than the 1999 quarter’s mark of $5 million, or 62 cents. The income performance beat consensus estimates by 6 cents. Sales in the period moved up 9.9 percent to $136.6 million from $124.4 million. Gross margin improved 60 basis points to 28.7 percent.
Peter Boneparth, president and chief executive officer, told WWD: “Even in a consolidating business, there are always pockets of opportunity. In all the channels we serve, including the slower-growing department stores, we have worked to make ourselves a more attractive supplier for the retailer and locked into a ‘great product at a great price’ mentality for the consumer.”
For the year, net income more than tripled to $26.9 million, or $3.05 a diluted share, from $8.5 million in fiscal 1999. Consensus estimates for the year had been $3 a share. Net sales expanded 24.1 percent to $506.3 million, while gross margin jumped to 28.4 percent from 25.5 percent.
The firm’s shares Wednesday were up 31 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $14.56 in Nasdaq trading.

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