Sportswear manufacturer Russell Corp on Thursday posted a 38 per cent jump in first quarter profit from the year-ago period on the back of higher sales and reaffirmed its full year earnings outlook.

The Georgia-based company reported a net profit of $3.4 million, or 11 cents per share, versus $2.6m, or eight cents per share, in 2002.

Russell, which last month agreed to acquire most of the sporting goods assets of Spalding Sports Worldwide Inc for $65m, said sales rose six per cent from the year prior to $228m thanks to strong demand for team uniforms and fleece clothing.

It added it still sees full year earnings of $1.60 to $1.75 per share and net sales of $1.26 billion to $1.30bn, with second quarter earnings seen in the range of 16 to 20 cents per share, third quarter earnings of 82 to 88 cents, and fourth quarter earnings of 50 to 56 cents.

Chairman and CEO, Jack Ward, commented: "The strength of our brands and the expansion of our athletic business in the retail and team sports channels certainly contributed to our positive first quarter results.

"Russell Athletic remains a leader in the team uniform business and is the number-one fleece brand in the national chain stores. Additionally, our Jerzees brand is growing its number-one market position with the mass merchandisers in both the men's and boys' fleece categories."