T-shirt maker Gildan Activewear Inc yesterday (1 February) revealed a first-quarter profit of US$16.2m - nearly twice as much as year-earlier earnings of $8.4m.

Montreal-based Gildan said sales in the first quarter - seasonally the worst period for T-shirt sales - were $120.3m, up more than 10.4 per cent from $109 million a year earlier.

Unit sales volumes increased by 14.8% and were partially offset by the impact of a lower-valued product-mix. Net selling prices were marginally higher than last year the company said.

Gross margins in the first quarter were 35.7%, versus 29.7% in the first quarter of 2005. This increase was attributed to more favourable manufacturing efficiencies and the lower cost of cotton, as well as slightly higher selling prices.

The strong first quarter results have prompted the company to increase its guidance for the full 2006 fiscal year to $1.90 per share from $1.85 per share.

Gildan added that it is pleased with the progress of its major capacity expansion projects in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The company is also evaluating potential acquisition opportunities in the sock industry.