Jos. A. Bank posts a strong 4th quarter after weak 3rd

Clothing

March 08, 2000|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Marking a rapid turnaround after a money-losing third quarter, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. reported stronger-than-expected earnings yesterday for its fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31.

The men's clothing retailer, with headquarters in Hampstead, reported fourth-quarter earnings of $2.5 million, or 36 cents a share, before one-time charges, compared with $2.2 million, or 32 cents a share, in the corresponding quarter last year. With the one-time charges, earnings were $1.9 million, or 28 cents a share.

Kenneth M. Gassman, an analyst with Davenport & Co. in Richmond, Va., had been expecting earnings of 5 cents to 10 cents a share lower than Bank reported.

"It looks like a change in the management team has had a significant impact on results in the all-important Christmas season," Gassman said, referring to several appointments, including that of Robert N. Wildrick as chief executive officer in October.

Sales for the quarter were $62 million, up 8.3 percent from $57.2 million in the fourth quarter last year. Same-store sales were up 5.5 percent.

Wildrick said the sales growth came from repricing some items and from better targeting of direct-mail marketing.

Also, the company shut a money-losing division that produced clothing with corporate logos. Wildrick said a few executives of that division were fired, but other employees were absorbed.

The one-time charges of $925,000 in the fourth quarter were related to the shutdown and to a payout of about $500,000 to Frank Tworecke, the former president and chief operating officer who resigned about a week after Wildrick was named CEO.

For the year, Bank earned $1.4 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with $5.9 million, or 85 cents a share, for the previous year. Sales for the year were $193.5 million, up 3.4 percent from $187.2 million.

Wildrick said he is developing a strategic plan that calls for "growing at a much faster rate," with a goal of doubling sales in four years.

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