- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Shares of Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. continued to rise after the men's specialty clothing store company reported higher earnings for its second quarter ended June 30.
The Hampstead, Md., clothing retailer's stock closed yesterday at $19.77, more than twice its value six months ago at $7.96. Last week, the company said profits more than tripled in the second quarter to $942,000 (13 cents per diluted share) from $291,000 (5 cents) a year earlier.
Michael Via, an analyst for Andersen & Strudwick in Richmond who rated the stock as a good buy, attributed the increased profits to the company's fiscally conservative spending policy and an expansion program, which will open 25 stores nationwide by the end of this year.
"The company has shown dramatic earnings growth in the last few years and has raised the expected earnings growth from $1.25 per share to $1.35," Mr. Via said. "The company is also getting into specialty malls that cater to higher-end customers and will be alongside other high quality stores like Talbots [Inc.]."
Jos. A. Bank Chief Executive Officer Robert Wildrick said the company is planning on 30 new stores each year for the next couple years, though that number may increase. "We want to be careful in our expanding but business has been very good in the few quarters and show us that there is a demand for our product."
By the end of the year, Jos. A. Bank will have 160 stores, which may grow to a store base of 500 under the current infrastructure and manufacturing resources, Mr. Via said.
The company is rebounding somewhat from weaker returns in June and July when inventory was 18 percent lower than the previous year, said Preston Silvey, analyst who also rated the company a strong buy.
"The inventory dropped in the last two months but the demand was still there," said Mr. Silvey, with First Dallas Securities, which owns Jos. A. Bank stock. "However, once the company replenished more suits and casual wear in the stores [by late July], the stores gained a good momentum that they are still riding."
Mr. Wildrick said the increase in sales, $51.9 million in the second quarter compared with $46.1 million a year earlier, is linked to the recent recession.
"We see more men buying our clothes because they want them to last longer, especially during a time where saving money counts," Mr. Wildrick said.
The service and extra features have helped expand the customer base, he said.
"We try and orient the customer service so we're building relationships with our customers instead of seeing them as strictly another transaction," Mr. Wildrick said.
The wider selection in corporate casual wear, formal attire and weekend wear helped the company report higher profits than competitors like Brooks Brothers Clothing and Men's Wearhouse Inc., Mr. Via said.
"Men like the wide selection offered not just in their suits, but also in golf shirts, khakis and other casual wear," he said. "Jos. A. Bank also identifies itself as a specialty store and men know they can expect high quality out of the clothing."
While Mr. Via noted a move in corporations toward more formal attire, he said the trend has not been a strong factor for Jos. A. Bank's growth.
"Many people are saying the increase is due to suits coming back into the workplace and that's not really the case here," Mr. Via said. "What we've seen is more men are getting all their clothing needs at one store and they like the quality in the casual clothes as much as in the suits."

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