Puma says Latin American demand boosts Q4 earnings

FRANKFURT - Demand in Latin America boosted fourth-quarter sales at German sporting goods maker Puma , putting it on track to reach its 2015 top-line target of 4 billion euros ($5.25 billion), the company said on Wednesday.

Sales were up 15.6 percent on a euro basis at 720.5 million euros in the three months through December, beating an average estimate of 675 million euros in a Reuters poll.

Puma, which competes with Nike and Adidas , said it believes it can increase sales by a high single-digit percentage this year and next year and improve net profit by a mid-single-digit percentage.

Sales in the Americas region, its biggest in terms of revenue, jumped by 25.4 percent as customers in Latin America snapped up Motorsport goods and lifestyle products helped improve quarterly sales in the United States.

Puma admitted in October that it needed to work harder in the U.S., where sales fell in the third quarter, contrasting with Adidas.

Quarterly net profit more than doubled to 33.1 million euros from 14.0 million, beating consensus of 27.4 million.

The company also announced an annual dividend of 2.00 euros per share, up from 1.80 euro a year earlier. Analysts had on average expected a payout of 2.28 euros.

Puma is controlled by French luxury goods group PPR. ($1 = 0.7616 euros) (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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