Sportswear giant Puma AG revealed on Thursday its pre-tax profit for 2001 more than doubled and expects double-digit growth in sales and earnings in 2002.

The company said in a statement its pre-tax earnings climbed to 57.4 million euros ($50.13m) thanks to "positive developments" in the fourth quarter and strong growth in US and western European markets.

Net sales surged to 598.1m euros from 462.4m euros in the year-ago period, while earnings per share came in at 2.58 euros against 1.14 euros in the previous year. It added that at the end of December, orders were up 55.2 per cent at 360.1m euros,

The company is sponsoring four teams at this summer's soccer World Cup in Japan and South Korea which it expects will bring a double-digit rise in sales and earnings.

Puma is Germany's second-largest sportswear group after Adidas-Salomon AG which last week revealed 2001 sales rose five per cent to 6.1 billion euros ($5.3bn) and net income rose 15 per cent to 208m euros.