VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC) -- with a name like that, it could be anything. A little later, you'll find out what those letters stand for. The company designs, makes, and markets apparel, including some fairly well-known, low-cost jeans brands, like Wrangler and Lee, as well as intimate apparel. The stock gained as much as 7% today, after VF indicated that its first-quarter earnings will arrive at the high end of its guidance.

VF Corp. said earnings will be at the high end of its previous 8% to 10% guidance. It also expects an earnings improvement of 5% for the quarter, compared with its old guidance for profits to remain level to last year.

The news likely sounds heartening to investors who have been following the stock for a while. Last quarter, VF reported earnings up 52%, though it admitted to a tough retail environment. Despite the fact that it boasts 20% of the jeans market in the U.S., there are still some pretty tough competitive conditions.

Its largest account is Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), and Target (NYSE:TGT) is also a customer; both discounters now carry Levi's, a brand that certainly could spell some trouble mixed up with VF's Wrangler, Lee, and Riders jeans. Also, last quarter, there was a larger-than-expected negative affect on VF's sales when another major customer, Kmart (NASDAQ:KMRT), was shutting down stores.

The company considers its biggest competitor to be Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE), one of the picks from February's Stocks Fools Love. Sara Lee, of course, provides an array of intimate apparel brands; it also has a good presence in those discounters mentioned above.

VF Corp. also makes several well-known names in intimate apparel, such as Vanity Fair (the original name of VF Corp. was Vanity Fair Mills) and Lily of France, as well as sporty, outdoorsy apparel lines, like The North Face and its newest acquisition, Nautica.

The stock hit a new 52-week high today, and trades at about 12 times forward earnings. VF Corp. shares sound cheap enough to warrant a closer, more in-depth look -- for those who aren't scared off by some of the competitive forces at work, of course.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She thinks jeans make great work attire and often argues with anyone who tries to tell her otherwise.