Leading German sportswear, footwear and equipment firm Puma AG on Thursday posted another huge rise in quarterly profit on the back of soaring sales.

The Herzogenaurach-based firm said its third quarter net profit more than doubled to 69 million euros from 33.7 million euros last year as sales jumped 37.8 per cent year-on-year to 402.3 million euros.

Its gross profit margin hit a record high of 50.4 per cent and it reaffirmed its view of a 30 per cent jump in full year sales from last year, or 40 per cent when adjusted for currency effects.

Puma said apparel sales in the latest quarter rose 46 per cent to 110.2 million euros while footwear sales jumped 34.7 per cent to 267.5 million euros and accessories sales rose 36.5 per cent to 24.5 million euros.

All regions contributed to that growth with a "significant double-digit increase" realised in all geographic regions, it said.

European sales for the latest quarter rose 27.7 per cent year-on-year to 282.2 million euros, with sales in the Americas up 32.6 per cent to 71.1 million euros.

Sales in the Africa/Middle East region rose 16 per cent year-on-year to 7.3 million euros and due to the takeover of the footwear and accessories business in Japan, effective April 1, Asia/Pacific Rim region sales surged 278.2 per cent to 41.6 million euros.

Third quarter worldwide branded sales, which consist of consolidated and licensed sales, increased 25.6 per cent to 512.5 million euros from the same period of last year.

Future orders rose 28.8 per cent to 645.6 million euros as of September 30, while currency adjusted orders increased 34.4 per cent. Excluding Japan, orders were up by 16.5 per cent, or 22.1 per cent when currency adjusted.

Delighted CEO Jochen Zeitz said: "Our strong performance and outlook for the full year confirm the company's sustained momentum. We have had solid sell-through in FW 2003 as well as strong reactions to future collections, and therefore also anticipate a positive start into 2004."

He added based on the strong performance during the first three quarters, full year pre-tax profit should reach at least 245 million euros.