McNaughton Apparel Group Inc (Nasdaq: MAGI) today announced that it expects earnings per share for the third quarter ended August 5, 2000 to significantly exceed current expectations.

The company anticipates it will report diluted earnings per share in the range of $0.70 to $0.75, more than doubling the third quarter fiscal 1999 diluted earnings per share of $0.32, and well above analysts' consensus estimates of $0.46 per share.

Additionally, the company expects to report net sales of approximately $110m to $115m, an increase of at least 24 per cent over third quarter 1999 net sales of $92.9m.

For the nine months ended August 5, 2000, the company anticipates reporting diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.30 to $2.35, approximately five times diluted earnings per share of $0.47 in the prior year nine-month period.

Peter Boneparth, chief executive officer of McNaughton Apparel Group, said: "Once again, we are delighted with our results as they reflect the ongoing strength of our brands. We continue to experience better than anticipated sell-throughs at retail and all three of our divisions have been outperforming our expectations. Importantly, we are very encouraged about our outlook as Fall bookings have been exceptionally strong. Looking ahead, we are confident that we will experience continued growth in all of our businesses throughout the balance of the year and beyond."

McNaughton Apparel Group Inc designs, contracts for the manufacture of and markets a broad line of brand name, moderately- priced women's and juniors' career and casual clothing. The company's product lines include collections of related separates coordinated by color and style, as well as casual weekend wear and related knitwear separates. The company markets its products under its nationally known labels, including Norton McNaughton(r) and Norton Studio(r), through its subsidiary Norton McNaughton of Squire, Inc, Erika(r), through its subsidiary Miss Erika, Inc, and Energier, Currants(r), Jamie Scott(r) and Polar 2000(r), through its subsidiary Jeri-Jo Knitwear, Inc.