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S&P raises debt rating on Hanesbrands

NEW YORK (AP) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Thursday raised its rating on Hanesbrands Inc., citing the clothing company's recent debt repayment and modest growth.

The rating agency increased the clothing company's corporate credit rating to "BB" from "BB-." That's still two notches into "junk" bond status. Having an investment-grade rating can make it cheaper for a company to borrow money.

Hanesbrands, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., makes Hanes underwear, T-shirts and other clothing. The company reported in February that an adjusted profit measure, which excluded interest, tax and debt repayment expenses and other items, jumped 86 percent to $174 million in the fourth quarter. For the whole year, the measure, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, dipped less than 1 percent, to $526 million.

S&P said that it expects Hanesbrands could cut its debt further this year and its operating performance will remain relatively stable.

Shares rose 41 cents to close at $45.12.