Amer Sports Q4 Net Profit Up 4 Percent

HELSINKI (AP) - Sports equipment maker Amer Sports Corp., whose brands include Atomic, Salomon and Wilson, on Thursday reported that fourth-quarter profit rose 4 percent, less than markets were expecting, amid a 21 percent gain in sales.

Net profit rose to $52.6 million (¿38.1 million) from ¿36.6 million a year earlier but was below analyst expectations for ¿46.4 million. Amer Sports stock plunged 8 percent to close at ¿9.80 ($13.47) on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

Revenue rose to ¿583 million from ¿480 million in 2009, the Finnish company said.

"Its earnings (before interest and taxes) was a bit poorer than expected and the ball sports segment performed worse than expected," Pohjola Bank analyst Jari Raisanen said. "But I think the markets have overreacted a bit."

Amer Sports gave a positive outlook saying that sales would further grow as its "strategic development programs ... continue to contribute positively" to the 2011 result. It said that it expects last year's general recovery in the sports equipment market to continue through 2011.

Operating expenses in the period grew by over ¿18 million, with an extra ¿4 million spent on long-term projects, mainly in marketing and retail.

In the full year, Amer's net profit more than doubled to ¿69 million with sales of ¿1.7 billion - up 13 percent over 2009.

CEO Heikki Takala said the good result was helped by a better economic environment and good snow conditions, with footwear sales up 26 percent and a 25 percent increase in the number of brand stores and outlets.

Describing 2010 as a "good year," Takala said 2011 will be "the year of 'go-to-market,' with special focus on improving customer service and driving commercial expansion."

In the fourth quarter, Amer's sales grew most - by 22 percent - in its largest market of Europe and the Middle East, and by 19 percent in its next biggest region, the Americas.

Winter and outdoor sports equipment saw the biggest growth, of 27 percent, followed by ball sports and fitness equipment.

Based in Helsinki, Amer Sports employs 6,600 people - up from 6,300 a year earlier.



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