By Ross Marowits MONTREAL _ Gildan Activewear says its profits grew by 18.1 per cent to US$41.7 million in the first quarter as revenues grew 7.3 per cent to US$451.4 million . The Montreal -based apparel maker, which reports in U.S. dollars, said it earned 34 cents per share for the period ended Dec. 29 , up from 29 cents per share a year ago. Before restructuring and acquisition-related costs, the company earned $43.3 million in adjusted profits or 35 cents per share, at the high end of its guidance and slightly above analyst forecasts. That compared with $39.1 million or 32 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013. Revenues were up from $420.8 million a year ago, according to results released after markets closed. Gildan (TSX:GIL) was expected to report 34 cents per share in adjusted profits on $450.6 million of revenues according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The company attributed the earnings growth to improved sales in its printwear and branded apparel segments, partially offset by higher selling, general and administrative expenses. Net printwear sales increased 7.4 per cent to $261.8 million as unit sales volumes increased 5.9 per cent, including a 31 per cent growth in international sales volumes. The benefits from higher volumes was partially offset by lower net selling prices. Branded Apparel sales were up 7.1 per cent to $189.6 million on strong consumer demand for its Gildan branded underwear and market gains for its Gold Toe branded socks. The gains were offset by lower sales of private label programs as retails market conditions were weak in the holiday season. Gildan maintain its earnings guidance for the full year and said it expects to earn 61 to 64 cents per share in adjusted profits in the second quarter, up between 3.4 and 8.5 per cent, on more than $550 million of sales. Gildan is a leading supplier of apparel, including T-shirts, fleece, sport shirts, socks and underwear. It sells products under the Gildan, Gold Toe and Anvil brands, and has licensing arrangements with Armour, Mossy Oak and New Balance brands. Its manufacturing facilities in Central America , the Caribbean and Bangladesh employ more than 34,000 workers. On the Toronto Stock Exchange , Gildan's shares closed at C$58.23 , up 58 cents , or one per cent, on Wednesday. Follow (at)RossMarowits on Twitter
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