Puma lifts 2018 targets but warns of trade war headwinds

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


German sporting goods maker Puma on Thursday slightly upped its forecasts for 2018 on the back of strong first-quarter sales, but warned that the US-China trade row could cloud the rosy outlook.

Revenues at the Bavaria-based group hit 1.13 billion euros ($1.40 billion) between January and March, up 12 percent year-on-year, boosted by tie-ins with celebrities like singer Rihanna and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

Operating, or underlying, profit soared by 60 percent to reach 112 million euros, the leaping-cat brand said in a preliminary earnings statement.

Major sporting events this year -- including the football World Cup in Russia -- and more high-profile partnerships are set to keep Puma in the spotlight in coming months.

But despite the promising start to 2018, the group said it was upping its full-year guidance "only slightly", citing "several uncertainties" ahead.

"This includes adverse and volatile currency developments, political instabilities as well as the uncertain trade environment between the USA and China."

The Nike and Adidas competitor now expects sales to increase by 10-12 percent this year, compared with its previous guidance of a 10-percent jump.

That will power operating profit to between 310 million and 330 million euros, up from the previous range of 305-325 million.

"Management still expects that net earnings will improve significantly in 2018," Puma added.

The company will release its detailed first-quarter results on April 24.

US President Donald Trump has sparked fears of a potentially devastating trade war between the world's top two economies after threatening punitive duties on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports.

China has vowed to defend itself through a series of reciprocal measures.