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Sportswear firm looks forward to World Cup

GERMAN sportswear company Puma AG said yesterday that net profit fell substantially in the first quarter as the recession and restructuring charges hurt sales and earnings.

The Herzogenaurach-based company reported a net profit of 5.6 million euros (US$7.5 million) in the January-March period, a fraction of the 90 million euros it made in the first quarter of 2008.

But Puma said it expected benefits from next year's World Cup in South Africa.

It is the outfitter for 11 African national teams and the defending champions, Italy.

Puma, Germany's second-largest sportswear company behind Adidas AG, said sales for the first quarter fell about 1 percent, to 738 million euros compared to 741 million euros a year earlier.

However, adjusted for currency effects, the sales result was pushed down by more than 3 percent.

Puma said first quarter earnings were affected by a one-time charge of 110 million euros which the company will use to restructure operations and organization, although it said it did not expect a reduction in the workforce.

"Despite an ongoing slowdown in the global consumer's environment, Puma managed to post a solid sales and earnings performance before one-time expenses in the first quarter," Jochen Zeitz, the company's chief executive said in the report.


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