Jos. A Bank Clothiers Inc. said yesterday that its same-store sales rose for the fourth consecutive month in May - although at a slower pace than in April - while its catalog and Internet sales jumped more than 50 percent from those of May 2001.
Same-store sales, a key indicator of a retailer's health, rose 2 percent for the Hampstead-based men's clothier. In April, Bank's same-store sales were up 8 percent over sales in April 2001.
Bank's combined catalog and Internet sales increased 52.2 percent last month, and its total sales for the month were $18.2 million, up 14.5 percent from May 2001's $15.9 million.
While the clothing retail industry suffers and many major stores' same-store sales decline, Bank Chief Executive Officer Robert N. Wildrick described his company's performance as very good.
"We're on plan," Wildrick said yesterday.
Michael M. Via, an analyst who follows Bank for Anderson & Strudwick Inc., said, "Having a positive same-store increase ... was very good in what was basically a lackluster retail environment. It's clear to us that Jos. A. Bank is gaining market share."
The company probably would have done better if it had a larger inventory, said Wildrick. "Our inventory got a little low, and we probably could have gotten even more sales had our inventory been a little higher," he said.
Part of Bank's success results from its retention of longtime, older customers while attracting a younger set, said Wildrick.
"We're almost becoming a hip, trendy thing among the young men," said Wildrick. "Right now, the fashion trend out there is to look good."
Analysts predict Bank's earnings per share for the second quarter - traditionally its slowest quarter - will double last year's 5 cents.
"I feel very comfortable with the analysts' estimate," said Wildrick. The company will continue to do well through the end of the year, he said.
Bank's shares rose 13 cents yesterday to close at $19.51 yesterday on the Nasdaq stock market. Last month, Bank's shares hit an all-time high of $24.92.
Via said he doesn't expect this month's decline in stock price to be permanent, adding that Bank's stock had been undervalued. He said he expects Bank's stock to reach about $26 a share by the end of the year.