Branded apparel group Oxford Industries has reported second half earnings per share of US$0.71 compared with $0.68 during the same period last year, but revealed that weak holiday and wholesale performance in December and January has dampened expectations.

The company, a producer and marketer of brands including Tommy Bahama and Ben Sherman, said that consolidated net sales for the quarter increased to $294.5m from $291.0m.

However, for the first six months of the year consolidated net sales decreased to $532.4m from $575.1m in the same six month period last year and diluted earnings from continuing operations per common share decreased to $0.98 from $1.31 in the same period last year.

"We are pleased to deliver results from operations that exceeded last year's second quarter and were in line with our expectations," said J Hicks Lanier, chairman and CEO of Oxford Industries. "However, the holiday season has been challenging for our industry and in our retail stores. At present, we expect these conditions to persist and, as a result, we are planning conservatively and managing inventory risk prudently."

Its Tommy Bahama brand reported a net sales increase of 2.3% to $110.3m for the second quarter, driven by additional retail stores and the launch of the e-commerce site the company said. Its operating income for the second quarter increased to $14.3m from $13.9m in the second quarter of fiscal 2007.

Meanwhile, Ben Sherman reported a net sales increase of 4.0% to $45.6m for the second quarter of transition period 2008 compared to $43.8m in the second quarter of fiscal 2007, due primarily to favourable foreign currency exchange translation rates. Operating income for Ben Sherman increased to $5.8m in the second quarter of transition period 2008 from $4.7m in the second quarter of fiscal 2007, the company added.

Oxford Apparel, however, reported net sales of $87.1m for the second quarter, down 1.2% from $88.1m in the second quarter of fiscal 2007. Operating income for Oxford Apparel was $7.3m for the second quarter, an increase of 39.4% from $5.2m in the second quarter of fiscal 2007 though, following efforts to focus on key product categories, exit certain underperforming lines of business and make improvements to cost structure, the company said.

The company said it has moderated its expectations for the two month period commencing 1 December 2007 and ending 2 February. Lanier said: "December and January are typically not heavy shipping months in our wholesale businesses. That, coupled with a weak holiday performance by most of our wholesale customers, has dampened our expectations for this period. Our own retail performance did not meet expectations in December and we do not expect a significant improvement in January."

The company now expects net sales for the two month period to be slightly below the comparable period last year and net earnings for the two month period to be in the range of breakeven to a modest profit.