The Indicator: Sales jumped 6.4% in 2011 and stock prices for the big underwear brands – namely Hanesbrands (up 33% in the last three months), Warnaco (up 14%) and Limited (up 20%) – are all doing well.
What It Really Means: None other than former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was a true believer in the Underwear Index. Underwear sales are historically rock steady, so if they dipped even slightly, Greenspan believed it to be a harbinger of bad news. Early in 2009, underwear sales indeed dropped by 2.3%. But take heart: Sales jumped more than 6% in 2011, from $3.08 billion to $3.28 billion.
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