Adidas cautious for year end as pandemic returns By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Adidas’ 70th anniversary in Herzogenaurach

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sportswear firm Adidas (DE:) expects sales to decline in the last three months of the year despite forecasting a return to growth in China, as coronavirus lockdowns return.

Third-quarter sales fell by a currency-neutral 3% to 5.96 billion euros ($7.05 billion), while operating profit fell 12% to 794 million euros, ahead of average analyst forecasts for 5.91 billion and 723 million respectively.

Adidas expects a similar level of sales decline in the fourth quarter based on more than 90% of its stores staying open and shopper numbers not being hit too much by new lockdowns. About 93% of stores are currently open.

“While at the beginning of the quarter we were on track for growth in Q4, a worsening of the pandemic in many regions of the world is again requiring our patience and support,” Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted said in a statement.

Adidas shares opened 2.5% lower.

“The short-term outlook appears less constructive given the current shape of demand and a rebuild in costs,” Jefferies (NYSE:) analyst James Grzinic wrote in a note.

Sales of the Reebok brand fell 7%. Adidas has declined to comment on a magazine report earlier this month that it is planning to sell Reebok, which has struggled since being bought by Adidas in 2005.

Adidas predicted a return to growth in greater China in the fourth quarter, even though the year-ago period was strong, and said it expects a fourth-quarter operating profit of between 100 million and 200 million euros.

Sales rose 4% in Europe in the third quarter, but fell 1% in North America and 5% in greater China as initial pent-up demand faded after coronavirus restrictions were lifted. Ecommerce sales jumped 51%.

German rival Puma (DE:) reported a strong rebound in third-quarter sales in the Americas and Europe.

Adidas also said it had replaced a loan it secured during the early stages of the pandemic with state-backed bank KfW with a 1.5 billion euro syndicated loan with partner banks.

($1 = 0.8460 euros)

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