UPDATE 2-Puma lifts '08 sales outlook, mum on profit

Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:17am EDT

Related Topics

* Raises 2008 sales forecast, gives no profit outlook

* Total orders up currency adjusted 4.7 pct as of Sept.

* Shares fall 3.4 pct, underperform German mid-cap index

(Adds CEO, analyst comments and share reaction)

FRANKFURT, Oct 31 (Reuters) - World No. 3 sportswear maker Puma (PUMG.DE) lifted its full-year sales forecast on Friday, backed by a solid order book, but kept quiet on expected profits, which disappointed investors and pushed its shares lower.

The stock initially rose as much as 2.7 percent but then slid up to 4.3 percent after Puma Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz refrained from giving a profit forecast for the full year.

The stock was down 3.4 percent at 124.45 euros at 1102 GMT, underperforming a 0.5 percent decline in Germany's mid-cap MDAX index .MDAXI.

The fact that Puma still did not give a profit outlook this late in the year was daunting, said an analyst, who asked not to be named.

Puma, owned by French retailer and Gucci owner PPR PTRP.PA, lifted its 2008 sales guidance to mid- to high-single-digit growth from single-digit currency-adjusted growth, due to its performance so far this year and solid order books.

Total orders stood at 1.16 billion euros as of September, up 4.7 percent currency-adjusted.

"The increase in the sales guidance is rather cosmetic and does not really change the picture," said Equinet analyst Ingbert Faust in a note to clients.

CEO Zeitz said Puma managed to grow sales in the third quarter "despite the very challenging economic situation and sluggish retail environment".

Consolidated sales rose 9.2 percent, adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations, to 712.7 million euros ($930.5 million) with sales in the Americas up 18.7 percent as the U.S. business stabilised.

While Zeitz saw a positive tendency in the U.S. market, he said the situation there would continue to be difficult.

Bigger rival Nike (NKE.N), the world's number-one sporting goods maker, also benefited from robust U.S. sales and orders growth in its fiscal first quarter, it said in September.

Overall, Zeitz said private consumption would remain subdued and could even weaken further in the next couple of months.

Shares in Puma, based in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, trades at about 7 times projected 2009 earnings, slightly below its crosstown rival Adidas ADSG.DE -- the world number two, and which is due to report third-quarter results on Nov. 6 -- and below Nike. (Reporting by Eva Kuehnen; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

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