HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, March 14 (Reuters) - Adidas forecast another year of sales and profit growth for 2018, albeit at a slower pace than in 2017, as the German sportswear firm reported fourth-quarter sales that undershot analyst forecasts and a net loss due to a one-off U.S. tax hit.
Adidas, which has seen its shares fall 15 percent in the past six months as its growth cooled, said late on Tuesday it plans to buy back up to 3 billion euros ($3.72 billion) worth of its shares by 2021, or almost 9 percent of its share capital.
On Wednesday, Adidas said quarterly sales rose 12 percent to 5.06 billion euros, a currency-neutral rise of 19 percent, but missing average analyst forecasts for 5.13 billion.
It reported operating profit more than tripled to 132 million euros, beating analyst forecasts for 61 million, but recorded a net loss of 41 million after a tax impact of 76 million due to changes in the U.S. tax code.
For 2018, it forecast currency-neutral sales up around 10 percent, the operating margin to increase to between 10.3 and 10.5 percent, from 9.8 percent in 2017, and net profit from continuing operations to rise between 13 and 17 percent. ($1 = 0.8063 euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson Editing by Maria Sheahan)