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Puma Says Fourth-Quarter Profits Drop 26%

Puma, the maker of athletic wear and a key supplier to many African soccer teams, said Monday its fourth-quarter profit fell 26% from a year earlier as it continues a restructuring program.

The maker of shoes, shirts and other athletic products earned 32.8 million euros ($43 million) in the final three months of 2006, down from 44.1 million euros on the quarter in 2005. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a profit of 34 million euros ($44.6 million).

Sales rose 38% to 480 million euros ($629.7 million) compared with 349.2 million euros a year ago, still less than the 492 million euros ($645.4 million) analysts had predicted.

For the year, the company earned 263.2 million euros ($345.3 million), down from 285.8 million euros in 2005, while sales rose 33% to 2.37 billion euros ($3.11 billion) from 1.78 billion euros in 2005.

Shares of Herzogenaurach-based Puma were up nearly 2% to 295.69 euros ($387.92) in Frankfurt trading.