Second quarter profit at Hanesbrands Inc has fallen by 46%, the underwear, hosiery and T-shirt maker said last week, adding that it was pleased the rate of sales decline has improved and that margins are better.

The company, whose brands include Hanes, Champion and Playtex, posted a net income of $30.6m, or $0.32 per share, compared with $57.3m, or $0.60 per share, in the same period last year.

Sales in the three months to 4 July were down 8% to $986.0m, but this is better than the 13% and 11% declines seen in the previous two quarters.

"We are pleased with our second-quarter performance in the midst of a significant recession," chairman and CEO Richard A Noll said.

"We achieved the sales trend improvement that we expected versus the first quarter, and our operating margin excluding actions of 9.8% was greater than 2008's full-year margin of 9.7%."

Innerwear segment sales declined by 4%, compared with a decline of 6% in the first quarter; Outerwear segment sales were down 11%, which beats the first quarter's 21% decline; and Hosiery segment sales dropped 14% against a 21% decline last quarter.

However, International sales slumped 20% in the quarter, partly hurt by foreign exchange rates.

"We are trending in the right direction," Noll said.

"We are now eagerly watching retail sell-through during the important back-to-school season. We expect single-digit declines in the third quarter's total net sales."