- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

Richmond-based S&K; Famous Brands recently reported good sales of its discount men’s clothing and steady growth compared with last year.

The company, which operates 241 stores in 27 states, is scheduled to announce its full-year revenue as soon as next week.

Its stock closed up $1.69, or 10.36 percent, yesterday on the Nasdaq Composite Index at $18 per share.

S&K; Famous Brands offers men’s apparel priced about 20 percent to 40 percent below many department store and specialty store prices. Prices are kept low by operating in small-to-midsized cities.

“That gives us lower operating costs,” said Robert Knowles, the company’s chief financial officer. “We just don’t operate in big cities.”

The nearest stores to the Washington area are in Hanover, Md., and Prince William, Va.

Despite lower costs, S&K; Famous Brands still sells merchandise from nationally recognized manufacturers, such as Bill Blass, Chaps by Ralph Lauren, Claiborne for Men and Oleg Cassini.

It also offers a liberal refund policy for returned merchandise with a money-back guarantee.

Mr. Knowles would not make projections for the company’s performance this year.

“It’s too difficult to predict,” he said. “We’re in the quiet period right now.”

He said Securities and Exchange Commission regulations made him reluctant to give any forward-looking statements.

However, Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Trend Report, called S&K; Famous Brands a “stable” company.

“It’s been around for a long time,” Mr. Barnard said. “I haven’t heard anything bad about them.”

Last month, S&K; Famous Brands (Nasdaq: SKFB) announced that sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 27 were up 12.3 percent to $16.2 million compared with $14.4 million the previous year. Same-store sales were up 9.8 percent.

Sales for the 43-week period ended Nov. 27 were up 7.4 percent to $150.2 million compared with $139.9 million for the like period in the previous year. Year-to-date same-store sales were up 4.5 percent.

A 2003 J.P. Morgan Securities forecast predicted S&K; Famous Brands’ earnings per share would rise 4 percent in 2004 and 6 percent in 2005.

Although fourth-quarter results have not been reported, Thanksgiving sales indicate they will show growth similar to the company’s third-quarter earnings.

“The company’s third-quarter earnings represent improved performance compared with last year,” Steward M. Kasen, S&K; Famous Brands’ chief executive officer, said in November. “Book value now exceeds $19.90 per share.”

The company’s stores are located from the East Coast west to Texas and from Maine south to Florida.

The company completed a new-store expansion in 2004 that included opening nine stores in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. It also relocated three stores in Alabama, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Another six stores that did not meet sales expectations were closed.

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