Puma has highlighted its sponsorships of sports personalities that put its logo in front of hundreds of millions of eyes worldwide (Christof STACHE)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) – German sportswear maker Puma said Thursday it was confident it could continue its strong growth this year, after 2018 brought a leap in profits powered by sports and fashion partnerships.

The bottom line at the brand with the leaping-cat logo grew 38 percent year-on-year, to 187.4 million euros ($211.1 million).

Operating, or underlying profit grew at around the same pace, to 337.4 million euros, on the back of sales up 17.6 percent at 4.6 billion euros.

Puma highlighted its sponsorships of sports personalities like French striker and football World Cup final man of the match Antoine Griezmann, as well as beloved teams like AC Milan, that put its logo in front of hundreds of millions of eyes worldwide.

Its 70th-anniversary year also saw the Bavarian firm return to basketball wear in partnership with Jay-Z, while it recruited supermodel Adriana Lima and pop star Selena Gomez in the women’s category.

Looking ahead to the full year, Puma said it expected sales to add 10 percent, for an operating profit of between 395 million and 415 million euros — up to 19 percent higher than in 2018.

“Puma is well on track towards achieving our medium-term ambition of 10 percent EBIT (operating profit) margin by 2021/22,” the group said in a statement.

But investors were intially unimpressed with the Puma results.

The shares tumbled as much as seven percent immediately after the release before recovering slightly, trading down 2.1 percent at 471.50 euros by 10:20 am in Frankfurt (0920 GMT).

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