Jos. A. Bank earnings rose 50% in 4th quarter

Clothier's profit up 31% in 2001, making it best year ever

March 19, 2002|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Men's retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. said yesterday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit increased more than 50 percent even as many shoppers continued to watch their spending.

The Hampstead-based retailer said it made $4.4 million, or 70 cents a diluted share, in the quarter that ended Feb. 2, compared with $2.9 million, or 48 cents a diluted share, in the corresponding quarter the year before.

Bank also said last year was its best year ever, as full-year earnings increased 31 percent, to a record $6.5 million, or $1.05 per diluted share. That was an increase from $5 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, the year before.

Company officials attributed the healthy performance, despite a weak economy, to an improvement in the quality of clothes and strong Internet and catalog sales. Internet and catalog traffic account for 15 percent of Bank sales.

Unlike other retail companies, Bank cuts costs by manufacturing its clothes.

"Most stores buy from a middleman, but we manufacture the goods ourselves," Robert N. Wildrick, the company's chief executive officer, said. "We've cut out the middleman, which has allowed us to put more into the quality of the clothes and keep some of the profit to ourselves."

Analysts said sales were driven by purchases of corporate casual wear and sportswear as men dress less formally at work.

Bank also slashed its prices less during seasonal sales, said Preston Silvey, an analyst with First Dallas Securities.

"What they're selling their products for is getting them more back," Silvey said.

Bank outperformed many other men's retailers as it opened 21 stores last year in a nationwide expansion.

Bank plans to open an additional 20 stores this year, Wildrick said. The company operates 138 stores in 29 states.

Bank expanded its Hampstead distribution facility by 50,000 square feet late last year to prepare for growth.

The company's shares gained 72 cents yesterday to close at $11.47.

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