BERLIN (Reuters) - German sportswear group Puma reported a record quarter in sales and earnings on Friday, driven by healthy demand in China and the Americas, after it reentered the basketball market.
Puma has been growing faster than its bigger German rival Adidas and market leader Nike, helped by savvy social media campaigns and partnerships with celebrities like singers Selena Gomez and Rihanna and rap mogul Jay-Z.
Nike last month reported quarterly revenue that failed to beat Wall Street estimates for the first time in more than a year, as sales fell short of expectations in its biggest market of North America, sending its shares tumbling 5 percent.
Puma's first-quarter sales rose a currency-adjusted 15.3 percent to 1.32 billion euros ($1.47 billion), versus an analyst consensus for 1.3 billion.
Operating profit came in at 143 million euros versus a consensus forecast of 139 million.
"The first quarter of 2019 was the best quarter PUMA has ever seen," Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said in a statement, adding that revenue and absolute operating profit were the highest it had ever achieved.
Still, Puma held off raising its guidance for the full year, which analysts regard as conservative
"Even if we have nine more months to go and despite a lot of uncertainty in the market, we feel comfortable that we will achieve our guidance for the full year," Gulden said.
Puma has forecast currency-adjusted sales growth of about 10 percent and operating profit of 395-415 million euros.
Adidas has forecast currency-neutral group sales growth of 5-8 percent in 2019 as it grapples with supply issues, while Nike expects sales to grow in the low double digits.
Puma's first-quarter sales rose a currency-adjusted 28.6 percent in Asia, and 16.3 percent in the Americas, helped by Puma's launch of its first basketball shoe in 20 years in September.
($1 = 0.8980 euros)
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Tassilo Hummel and Jason Neely)