German sportswear and athletic shoe giant Puma AG on Wednesday said its 2003 pre-tax profit will rise at a quicker rate than sales.

The firm, which posted a huge 117 per cent jump in 2002 pre-tax profit to 124.2 million euros on the back of a 52 per cent surge in sales to 909.8 million euros, last month said its expects sales and profit growth of 20 to 30 per cent this year.

Chief executive Jochen Zeitz told the company's annual general meeting yesterday: "Whereas until now we assumed a pretax profit increase corresponding with sales growth, from today's point of view profit will increase more strongly than sales."

The Herzogenaurach-based company will release its first quarter results next week.