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Specialty Garments performs well at UniFirst
Apr '09
UniFirst Corporation announced results for the second quarter and first six months of fiscal 2009, which ended on February 28, 2009.

Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 were $257.3 million, a 4.8% decrease from the previous year's $270.3 million. On a comparable work week basis, consolidated revenues increased 2.5%. Fiscal 2009's second quarter had one less work week as compared to 2008's, which accounted for a decline in revenues of 7.3%. Second quarter net income was $18.3 million or $0.94 per diluted common share, a 19.6% increase from the second quarter of fiscal 2008, when net income was $15.3 million or $0.79 per diluted common share.

Revenues for the first six months of fiscal 2009 increased 0.4% compared to the first six months of fiscal 2008, but increased 4.2% on a comparable work week basis. Net income for the first half of fiscal 2009 was $37.1 million or $1.92 per diluted common share, a 17.0% increase from the first half of fiscal 2008, when net income was $31.8 million or $1.64 per diluted common share.

Ronald D. Croatti, UniFirst President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “During the first six months of our fiscal year, the U.S. economy shed jobs at historically high levels. These job losses translated into reductions in uniform wearers throughout our broad customer base, which clearly put pressure on our top line growth. On a positive note, we continue to have success selling new business and are very pleased with our second quarter results from a profitability perspective.

We're focused on bringing our labor and other costs in line with the reality of a contracting economy. We want to thank all of our employees who continue to work extremely hard toward achieving these goals while, at the same time, continuing to fulfill our top priority of providing first class service to our customers.”

The Company's core laundry revenues declined 4.4% during the second quarter. However, excluding the impact of the extra work week in fiscal 2008, acquisitions and fluctuations in foreign currency, core laundry revenues increased 3.1%. Income from operations from the Company's core laundry business was up 18.7% as compared to the same period in fiscal 2008, while the operating margin increased to 13.7% from 11.0% a year earlier.

One significant factor contributing to this quarter's margin improvement over last year was lower fuel costs for our fleet of delivery vehicles. In addition, the core laundry business also benefited from lower rental merchandise amortization, reduced payroll costs as a percentage of revenues and a continued focus on controlling spending.

Partially offsetting these cost benefits were significantly higher bad debt expense incurred during the quarter and a considerably higher number of healthcare claims in the quarter as compared to the prior year.

A strong performance from the Company's Specialty Garments segment during the quarter contributed to the overall increase in operating profits. The First Aid segment, however, continued to be impacted by significantly lower demand for its products, which caused this segment to operate at near breakeven levels.

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