* Sales growth to slow to 5-9 pct in 2012
* Shares down 2.1 percent
* Big year for sports brands with Euro 2012 soccer, Olympics
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, March 7 German sportswear group
Adidas stuck to forecasts for a slowdown in sales
growth in 2012, disappointing investors who had hoped for more
in a banner year for sports events with the Olympics and
European soccer championships.
The company said on Wednesday sales growth would slow to 5-9
percent on a currency-neutral basis from the 13 percent reported
for 2011. Analysts described this as a cautious move from a
company that upgraded forecasts four times in 2011.
Smaller German rival Puma, controlled by French
luxury goods group PPR, said last month it expected a
near 10 percent rise in group sales for 2012, while Nike in
December said future orders were up 13 percent.
"2012 guidance is seen as a little low - it is below Puma
guidance and below Nike order backlogs," Silvia Quandt analyst
Mark Josefson said.
Adidas, the world's second-largest sporting goods group
behind Nike, grew sales and earnings to record levels in
2011, as consumers in China and Eastern Europe flocked to buy
its three-stripe products.
Adidas shares, which touched record highs of above 60 euros
in February, were down 2.1 percent at 56.51 euros by 1245 GMT,
bucking the positive trend on Germany's Dax index of leading
The three big sports brands have enjoyed strong growth over
the last year, as fashion-conscious Chinese and Russian
consumers snap up big brands and running fans stock up on the
latest high-tech products in the United States.
EUROPEAN SOCCER AND OLYMPICS
In 2012, the big sportswear brands are courting soccer fans
ahead of the UEFA European championships in Poland and Ukraine
that starts in June.
Adidas is an official sponsor of the tournament and also
supplies kit to European and world champions Spain as well as
Germany, another of the tournament favourites.
It has previously said it expects record soccer sales of
over 1.5 billion euros ($1.97 billion). Rival Puma is stepping
up investments, signing deals with players such as Barcelona's
Cesc Fabregas, and the Italian soccer federation.
Analyst Chris Walker of Nomura said that Adidas's gross
margins were slightly lower in the fourth quarter and noted that
the stock had enjoyed a strong run.
"It's probably more that expectations were elevated," he
said of the share price reaction.
"The full year results were in line with expectations and
broadly in line with company guidance," added Walker, who rates
the stock a "buy".
"It's an exciting year for the company. They will probably
have to weight more of their marketing spend to the early
quarters to get maximum benefit," he added.
Adidas is a sponsor of the London Olympics and is supplying
kit to the host nation, Team GB.
Adidas, which also owns the Reebok brand, confirmed a
forecast for earnings per share to rise by between 10 and 15
percent to around 3.52-3.68 euros in 2012, equivalent to net
income of 736-770 million euros.
The group reported 2011 sales of 13.3 billion euros and
operating profit of 1.01 billion, in line with expectations in a
Adidas itself had predicted a near 12 percent rise in sales
in November, the fourth time it had increased its sales outlook