Hanesbrands Inc.  (HBI) - Get Report   gained 20.2% on Thursday as its 2018 earnings proved a good fit for investors.

The underwear and clothing maker reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents per share, beating Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1 cent.

The earnings were 4 cents down from the same time a year ago, but the company said this was due mainly to higher taxes resulting from recent tax reform.

Otherwise strong numbers came through in the quarter: Adjusted operating profit increased 10% to $260 million and net sales increased 7% to $1.77 billion. Sales in underwear and sportswear, as well as international demand, helped push up business, said the company. Hanesbrands also was able to pay down much of its debt at the end of the year, the company said, better positioning it for 2019. 

All told, for 2018 Hanesbrands posted adjusted earnings per share of $1.71 compared with $1.93 in 2017.

"Our diversification strategy is working," said Hanesbrands CEO Gerald W. Evans Jr. in a statement, noting that global sales of its Champion brand were up, as well as demand for underwear, or as the company calls it, "innerwear," from Australia, Asia and the Americas.

For this year, Hanesbrands expects net sales of around $6.9 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.72 to $1.80. For the first quarter, meanwhile, net sales are expected hit around $1.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share around 24 to 26 cents. 

"Our outlook remains strong, including organic sales growth and significant cash flow growth expected in 2019, which underscores our progress toward achieving our long-term goals and enhancing value creation," added Evans.