Maidenform Brands' (NYSE:MFB) quarterly earnings rose a solid 15%, to $0.45 a share. This excludes a $0.06-per-share charge related to refinancing its credit facility. The stock is down more than 1% today, but the shares are starting to look attractive.

The wholesale segment, which sells to department stores and mass merchants such as Costco (NASDAQ:COST), accounts for 88% of the top line. Although sales rose only 2.5%, they came in as expected, as the company transitions to sell more branded apparel. Sales to the department stores and national chain stores increased 14.4%, to $68.2 million, thanks to strength in the Lilyette brand and new products such as The Smooth Bra Collection and Control It. Retailers are realizing that the average woman is a size 12, and these new brands cater to that larger size. My wife uses these products to smooth things out and hide lines -- as a man, I really don't get it, but there you go.

The less important retail segment, accounting for just 12% of sales, reported a 4.8% drop in the top line, with same-store sales declining 6.1%. The company has therefore lowered its sales growth expectations for the year to 5%-7%, from 6%-7%. Should macroeconomic factors such as high gas prices abate, there could be a pleasant surprise on this front, but for now, management says it wants to take a more cautious approach to the overall retail environment.

The company also met another key goal -- expanding gross margins by 220 basis points, to 39.9% -- by way of offering more favorable products and sourcing initiatives that lowered costs.

Maidenform has advantages over competitor Victoria's Secret, owned by Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD). The company has a better selection of products for full-figured women, and it's available at many different retail stores. So all things considered, patient investors may well be rewarded. With its trailing price-to-earnings ratio of just 13, the merchandise is not the only item selling inexpensively.

Related Foolishness:

Costco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Limited Brands is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Check out either service free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. Feel free to email him at rothmanviews@comcast.net. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned.