MW, Jos. A. Bank Shares in Deep Decline

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – Shares of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank fell sharply on Thursday as evidence continued to mount that sales of men’s tailored clothing and related furnishings are showing continuing signs of softness.

Shares of Men’s Wearhouse dropped $2.03, or 4.3%, to $44.80 in New York Stock Exchange trading Thursday after the company, as reported, said late Wednesday that its first-quarter earnings would come in at the low end of estimates due to “softening US sales.” While analysts had expected earnings per diluted share of $0.66, MW said EPS would more like finish the quarter at the low end of its earlier forecast of $0.63 to $0.67.

Trading in MW shares was more than four times the average pace: Nearly 2.9 million shares changed hands against the median of just over 709,000.

While investors reacted to MW’s earlier news Thursday morning, Jos. A. Bank came through with a disappointing report on its March sales. While net sales for the month were up 10.1% to $45.7 million, comparable-store sales gained 1.4% during a month when most retailers cited a benefit from the relative earliness of Easter.

On the Nasdaq, Bank shares fell $2.15, or 6.1%, to $33.39. Volume was nearly 1.5 million shares versus an average of just under 400,000.

Jos. A. Bank had for several years routinely reported monthly same-store sales gains in double-digit range but has shown signs of decelerating in recent seasons. For instance, its comps for fiscal 2006 were up 4.3%, but were up less than half that amount – 2% — during the fourth quarter.

Men’s Wearhouse has discontinued the practice of reporting monthly sales, as has another publicly held menswear retailer, Casual Male Retail Group, a big & tall specialist. Casual Male’s stock rose $0.09, or 0.8%, to close at $11.43 in Nasdaq trading Thursday.

The sell-off didn’t extend to sportswear and young men’s retailers, most of which reported March sales on or ahead of plan Thursday.