Mar 4, 2009
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Adidas sees 2009 profit fall after strong Q4

Mar 4, 2009

* Adidas expects 2009 margins, EPS to fall

* Says Q4 operating profit up 76.6 pct, above estimates

* Says Adidas brand order backlog down 6 pct as of end 2008

* Proposes steady dividend

(Adds details and background)

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, March 4 (Reuters) - Adidas (ADSG.DE) expects sales and earnings to fall in 2009, the world's second-biggest sporting goods maker said on Wednesday while posting better-than-expected fourth-quarter results.

Adidas said it saw group sales falling at a low- to mid-single-digit rate on a currency-neutral basis and expects sales at its Reebok brand to be "at least stable".

Higher operating expenses would make the group's margins and earnings per share decline this year, it added, but still proposed a steady dividend of 0.50 euros per share for 2008.

"We cannot ignore the unprecedented economic crisis all global businesses are facing today," said Chief Executive Herbert Hainer in a statement. Forecasting the group's second-half performance was particularly difficult.

"We have the resources and the energy to tackle the challenges that come," Hainer added.

Cross-town rival Puma (PUMG.DE) last week shied away from giving a 2009 outlook amid an uncertain economic environment.

Adidas' fourth-quarter operating profit rose 76.6 percent to 107 million euros ($135.3 million), beating the average estimate of 98 million euros in a Reuters poll of 16 analysts.

Sales rose 6.4 percent to 2.57 billion, above estimates.

Adidas shares trade at about 8 times 12-month forward earnings, a discount to Nike (NKE.N), which trades at a multiple of about 10, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights analysts' forecasts according to their track record.

Analysts said the weak performance at U.S. brand Reebok justifies the discount to its bigger rival. (Reporting by Eva Kuehnen; editing by Michael Shields)

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