Jos. A. Bank shares dip on sales report

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 13, 2007|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

Shares at men's clothier Jos. A. Bank Clothiers fell yesterday after it reported sales that were less than analysts expected.

The Hampstead company said that its comparable store sales grew 1.4 percent in March. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a 2.7 percent increase for the month.

Direct marketing sales, which include the Internet and catalog, increased 7.7 percent.

Wall Street reacted by sending the stock down more than 6 percent. It lost $2.15 yesterday to close at $33.39 on the Nasdaq.

A Jos. A. Bank executive didn't return calls yesterday.

Jos. A. Bank was one of only a few retailers that didn't perform as well as expected in March. It was a good month for most retailers, though some such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. warned that April sales may be weak. Overall retail sales were up an average of 6 percent in March, according to Retail Metrics LLC, which tracks retail trends. The firm had expected sales to rise 4.2 percent.

Most retailers benefited from an early Easter. But Jos. A. Bank's male shopper isn't as likely to buy a new outfit for the holiday, analysts said.

"Jos. A Bank, they're probably not going to see the benefit of Easter sales," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. "Most men are not going to buy Easter suits."

Some analysts expect Jos. A. Bank to see better results as the spring progresses.

"We do not believe Jos. A. Bank benefits, to any extent, from Easter but rather its consumers shop for spring once the weather improves," Margaret Whitfield, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., wrote in a research report.

Whitfield had predicted a 2 percent sales increase for the retailer.

This is the second time this year the men's clothier reported less-than-expected sales figures.

In January, the company reported that sales fell 4.7 percent from the comparable period a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected January same-store sales to rise 1 percent.

February comparable store sales increased 2.8 percent. Analysts had expected its same-store sales to rise 1.7 percent.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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