HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, Feb 9 (Reuters) - German sportswear firm Puma reported strong sales growth in the fourth quarter, particularly in Europe, and gave a confident forecast for 2017 as it benefits from a trend for retro sneakers and partnerships with stars like Usain Bolt.
Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden has led a gradual turnaround of a brand that had fallen far behind market leaders Nike and Adidas, sparking renewed speculation that majority owner Kering might consider a sale.
Puma reported on Thursday a quarterly net loss of 4.6 million euros ($4.9 million), with sales up 9 percent to 958 million. That was slightly ahead of average analyst forecasts for a 5 million net loss on sales of 947 million, according to a Reuters poll.
Puma expects currency-adjusted net sales to increase at a high single-digit percentage rate in 2017 after a rise of 10 percent in 2016, while earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) should come in between 170 million and 190 million euros, up from 128 million in 2016.
$1 = 0.9346 euros Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan