Athletic apparel giant Adidas-Salomon AG has posted a rise in first quarter pre-tax earnings to EUR130 million, up from EUR98m in the same period a year earlier.

The German company, which partly attributed the increase to lower debt maintenance costs, also reported a 41 per cent year-on-year rise in net profit to EUR72m for the quarter.

"With a great quarter like this as a start, we are confident that the full-year performance in 2004 will be better than we had originally expected," Adidas Herbert Hainer said.

Despite the largely improved results, sales for the quarter slipped three per cent year-on-year to EUR1.62 billion.

Particularly hard hit was the company's North American business, where sales fell 19 per cent to EUR328m.