February 14, 2019 / 9:00 AM / 6 months ago

Puma upbeat for 2019 as new styles prove popular

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, Feb 14 (Reuters) - German sportswear firm Puma forecast another year of fast sales and profit growth on Thursday after it reported strong quarterly results helped by demand for its chunky RS-X shoes and Cali sneakers marketed by singer Selena Gomez.

Fourth-quarter sales rose a currency-adjusted 20 percent to 1.226 billion euros ($1.38 billion), beating analyst consensus for 1.17 billion, while operating profit came in at 38 million euros, versus analyst forecasts for 39 million.

Puma said it expects sales to rise by about a currency-adjusted 10 percent in 2019 and operating profit of between 395 million and 415 million euros, while it is on track to meet a target for an operating margin of 10 percent by 2021/22.

Puma is growing faster than its bigger German rival Adidas and market leader Nike, helped by savvy social media campaigns and partnerships with celebrities like Gomez, Rihanna and rap mogul Jay-Z.

($1 = 0.8888 euros)

Reporting by Alexander Huebner, writing by Emma Thomasson; editing by Thomas Seythal

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