Jos. A. Bank posts slower profit rise

Clothier said earnings would be down after five quarters of gains

May 23, 2001|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., the Hampstead-based retailer of men's apparel and accessories, reported slowed first-quarter growth in sales and earnings yesterday after posting five consecutive quarters of gains.

For the quarter that ended May 5, Bank had a profit of $506,000, or 8 cents per share, a 53 percent decline from last year's first-quarter profit of $1.08 million, or 16 cents per share. The company posted a one-time charge resulting from a "strategic action" that cut 2 cents a share from its earnings in the quarter.

Bank officials would not elaborate on the strategic action, saying only that it was related to the company's future.

Net sales increased 2 percent to $47.4 million from $46.4 million for the corresponding quarter last year. Sales in stores open at least a year - a standard indicator of retail performance - fell eight-tenths of a percentage point for the quarter.

Company officials warned last week that earnings would be substantially below the previous year's level. They said Bank has faced a tough retail environment and has become aggressive in cutting expenses. Despite the slowed earnings, Bank, which opened eight stores last year, plans to open 30 stores this year.

Bank opened three stores in the first quarter and closed one in Manhasset, N.Y.

"We're going to stay the course, and we think it's going to add to our profitability," said David E. Ullman, executive financial officer and chief financial officer for Bank.

Ullman said the company plans to finance the openings with a $50 million line of credit. Each store costs $300,000 to $500,000 to open, he said.

Shares of Bank fell 40 cents yesterday to close at $5.13 on the Nasdaq stock market.

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