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Hands Off Hanes

About this time last year, Sara Lee (NYSE: SLE  ) was shedding its undies -- by spinning off its undergarment unit, Hanesbrands (NYSE: HBI  ) . Let's see where Hanes stands now.

Hanes' third-quarter profit decreased year over year, but it still beat analysts' expectations. Net income fell 22.7% to $38.9 million, or $0.40 per share. However, it primarily decreased because of high interest expense connected to its transformation last year. Operating profit actually increased 12.6%.

Hanes' net sales rose 3.1% to $1.15 billion; it's also worthwhile to note that gross margin slipped to 31.3% of sales, from 32.7% in the year-ago period. However, Hanes emphasized that certain non-operational "actions" affected EPS and profit margin, including plant closings and reorganizations, postretirement benefits and pension plan assets and liabilities, non-recurring spinoff and related charges, and other costs.

Need an overall update on underwear? Check out this article from last spring, which outlines the newly public entity. Hanesbrands emcompasses brands such as Wonderbra, Playtex, Bali, Champion, and Barely There, not to mention the obvious Hanes. Raid your unmentionables drawer, and it's easy to come up with its rivals, including Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) Fruit of the Loom, recently purchased from VF (NYSE: VFC  ) . And of course, let's not forget Limited's (NYSE: LTD  ) Victoria's Secret, nor newcomers like Chico's (NYSE: CHS  ) Soma concept, both of which exclusively target female customers.

Hanesbrands did beat expectations, and on some levels, it looks inexpensive -- its 0.96 PEG ratio, for example. But I've got a few key reservations here. For one thing, Hanes carries $2.37 billion in debt and a debt-to-capital ratio of 91.5%. That seems daunting, to say the least. The company did generate $185.5 million in free cash flow year to date, which should help it hack away at the debt. Still, this Fool says "No thanks."

The company's still working through its spinoff from Sara Lee, and grappling with the related costs. Many investors may be willing to dive in here. But when it comes to taking a stake in Hanesbrands, I'd urge Fools to keep their pants on.

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