Hanesbrands Inc. has continued its ambitious growth-by-acquisition strategy by announcing on Wednesday that it has bought Alternative Apparel for $60 million in cash.
Alternative, based in Norcross, Ga., is privately held. The deal closed Friday. Hanesbrands projects it to have $70 million in fiscal 2017 sales.
Evan Toporek, Alternative’s chief executive, will join Hanesbrands and continue to operate operations out of Norcross.
Alternative is Hanesbrands’ first prominent purchase since July 2016 when it spent $800 million in cash — its largest deal to date — to buy Pacific Brands Ltd., Australia’s top underwear and intimate-apparel company.
Hanesbrands described Alternative as a “marketer of better apparel basics” to the distributor, online, direct-to-consumer and traditional retail channels.
Hanesbrands also announced on Wednesday its preliminary third-quarter sales and earnings per share projections. The company plans to release its third-quarter report Nov. 1.
The company expects to report $1.8 billion in net sales, diluted earnings of 55 cents per share and adjusted earnings of 60 cents per share. The net-sales amount is unchanged from the projections made in its second-quarter report, while adjusted earnings are in the middle of the projected range of 59 cents to 61 cents a share.
Hanesbrands’ most recent fiscal 2017 guidance is diluted earnings in a range of $1.70 to $1.82 share, adjusted earnings in a range of $1.93 to $2.03 a share, and net sales in a range of $6.45 billion to $6.55 billion.
“We met our goal of returning to organic growth, and we continued to generate strong operating cash flow,” Gerald Evans Jr., Hanesbrands’ chief executive, said in a statement. “Our sales and earnings results (are being) driven by stronger-than-expected international growth.”
Other major purchases during Hanesbrands’ growth spurt include $585 million for Maidenform Brands Inc.; $528 million for Parisian manufacturer DBApparel; $228 million for Champion Europe; $55 million and assumption of $170 million in debt for GearCo Inc.; $200 million for Knights Apparel; $30 million for the rights to Champion in Japan; $21 million for GTM Sportswear; and $9 million for Australian apparel distributor TNF Apparel.
Hanesbrands has the No. 1 or No. 2 market share for underwear, intimate apparel and hosiery in 12 industrialized countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the United States.
Evans has said that acquisitions remain on Hanesbrands’ radar screen.
“We always have a long list of potentials that we’re out talking to, and we’re clearly positioned when the time is right to make an acquisition,” he said. “It’s an important part of our strategy going forward.”
Hanesbrands said it paid for the Alternative purchase with cash on hand and short-term borrowings on its revolving credit facility.
Alternative, founded in 1995, is known for its basic T-shirts, fleece and other tops and bottoms that it sources from vendors. The brand is known for “its comfort, style and social responsibility,” according to Hanesbrands.
Alternative has stores in Venice, Calif.; New York City’s SoHo neighborhood; and San Francisco.
“This is an exciting acquisition that supports our activewear growth strategy,” Evans said in his statement. “We will be able to leverage our global low-cost supply chain, which is a recognized social, environmental and ethical leader, with another strong brand to expand our market and channel penetration, including online.
“Combining these two companies is a great way to create value and generate growth opportunities.”
Toporek said Alternative was willing to sell because of the opportunities to market its products “on a grander scale by leveraging Hanes’ global supply chain and growth platform.”
“Partnering with a like-minded company that is a longtime industry innovator and leader will benefit our employees, our customers, and our brand as a whole,” he said.
The Alternative purchase drew mixed reactions from analysts.
Stifel analyst Jim Duffy considers the deal as “low risk” and said it “makes strategic sense, increasing Hanesbrands’ exposure in the better-quality basics market with an established brand while benefiting from their supply chain and scale.”
Duffy chose to focus more on Hanesbrands’ lack of an update on fiscal 2017 guidance.
“Comments about stronger-than-expected international results implies continued challenges in North America,” he said,
“With poor visibility to a sustainable return to growth in North America, we are challenged to justify sufficient risk-adjusted upside to support a ‘buy’ rating,” Duffy said. “We reaffirm our ‘hold’ rating and $23 target price.”
Bowman Gray IV, a local independent stock broker, compared Hanesbrands buying Alternative to “when Coke began buying smaller specialty drink makers, or when Reynolds American bought American Snuff Co.”
“It could be an interesting strategy to create a stable of smaller, unique brands under the Hanes umbrella,” Gray said.
CFRA Research analyst Victor Ahluwalia was encouraged by the reaffirmed earnings guidance and Alternative deal.
He increased his share-price target to $27 and rating from ‘hold’ to ‘buy.’
Ahluwalia said that there are “challenges in innerwear and uncertainties around the company’s on-going restructuring plan, but we expect Hanesbrands to further drive revenue through continued acquisitions and international growth.”