JoS. A. Bank Clothiers' (NASDAQ:JOSB) numbers weren't looking too shabby today. The men's apparel retailer said its net income for fiscal 2003 jumped 52%. Although last year was a dicey one for many retailers, it seems pretty reasonable to suspect retailers that provide clothing suitable for interviews would take a front seat in a recovering economy.

The company's fourth-quarter earnings rose to $9.6 million, or $0.85 per share, as compared with $6.4 million, or $0.59 per share, in the same quarter the year before. It racked up total sales of $100.9 million, up 30% on a quarter-over-quarter basis, with same-store sales 10.7% higher.

It's been a bit of a roller coaster lately for both JoS. A. Bank and discounter rival Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW). Despite some variables that argue for a better outlook for both, there have been speedbumps along the way.

In January, Men's Wearhouse warned that it would miss its holiday profit targets, despite a strong showing before and since. In comparison, that miss came close on the heels of holiday success from JoS. A. Banks. Meanwhile, in December, scrutiny put JoS. A. Bank in the spotlight.

Even though it seems as if men's opinions are fickle right now, when it comes to how much class their closets need, or how strong the economy really is, it still seems likely that wardrobe spending will continue, what with signs of improvement and the opportunities they bring.

Meanwhile, men are working harder these days to spiff up appearances, as evidenced by the "metrosexual" trend. Companies like Jos. A. Bank and its rivals for men's sharp-dressed dollars, which also include Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), may have a prime environment to work in.

Meanwhile, JoS. A. Bank continues to have an eye on growth. It currently has 214 stores open, and it plans to open 55 to 65 stores in the current fiscal year. (Ultimately, its goal is to have 500 stores to serve men's clothing needs.) That compares with the 695 stores that Men's Wearhouse currently has in operation -- a number that sounds much closer to growth and saturation, while JoS. A. Bank still has prime real estate to hit.

JoS. A. Bank gave a forecast for the first quarter of $0.27 per share, a few pennies shy of the consensus estimate, and in the afternoon, some investors bid it down more than 4%. Though some investors took it to the cleaners, it still seems like variables are lined up for JoS. A. Bank to be suited up for success.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.