Puma reported earnings tripled in the first quarter as sales expanded 25.8 percent on a currency-neutral basis.  On a currency-neutral basis, the gains were led by the Americas, climbing 38.5 percent and led by North America. Asia/Pacific revenues grew 28.8 percent, led by China, while EMEA gained 14.0 percent.

2021 First Quarter Highlights

  • Sales increase by 25.8 percent currency adjusted (ca) to €1,549 million (+19.2 percent reported);
  • Gross profit margin improves to 48.5 percent (Q1 2020: 47.6 percent);
  • Operating expenses (OPEX) increase by only 8.6 percent;
  • Operating result (EBIT) improves by 116.7 percent to €154 million (Q1 2020: €71 million);
  • Net earnings improve from €36 million in Q1 2020 to €109 million in Q1 2021;
  • Puma launches “She Moves Us” campaign;
  • Puma launches “Only See Great” campaign;
  • Neymar Jr. and Puma launch a creativity collection, featuring the Future Z 1.1 football boot, shorts, training accessories, and off-pitch apparel;
  • Puma launches running technology Nitro;
  • Puma launches Re:Gen collection converting textile waste into new product; and
  • Puma’s new multi-channel distribution center in Geiselwind, Germany starts operations.

Bjørn Gulden, CEO, Puma SE commentary:
“As expected, Q1 was a very strong quarter for Puma. Despite a lot of COVID-19 restrictions and supply chain issues due to container shortages and port congestion, we delivered a 26 percent sales growth in constant currency to €1,549 million and an EBIT increase of 117 percent to €154 million. We achieved double-digit growth in all regions and product divisions and continue to see strong global demand for our products, both from consumers and retailers.

Despite the uncertainty about the longevity and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, continued capacity issues and cost increases in global freight and a tense political situation between key regions that could have a negative impact on our industry, we feel confident that 2021 will be a better year than 2020. We believe that we should achieve a full-year sales growth in the mid-teens and that we will achieve significantly better profitability compared to last year.

2021 will, unfortunately, be again a year with a lot of uncertainty which will make efficient operations and accurate planning difficult. Our objective continues to be maneuvering through this difficult time as well as possible in the short term without hindering the mid-term momentum of Puma. We will continue to invest in product and marketing, strengthen our relationships with our retail partners and do everything we can to please our consumers.

The COVID-19 pandemic will probably continue to impact our industry throughout 2021, but we feel very confident for the mid-term future of Puma and our industry.”

First Quarter 2021
Sales increased by 25.8 percent (ca) to €1,548.8 million (+19.2 percent reported), despite COVID-19-related lockdown measures and supply chain constraints due to port congestion especially in North America. All regions and product divisions supported this sales growth with a currency-adjusted double-digit increase. Americas was up 38.5 percent (ca), driven by North America, Asia/Pacific grew 28.8 percent (ca), led by Greater China and EMEA was up 14.0 percent (ca), despite lockdowns in Europe. The growth was lead by Footwear (+27.0 percent ca) and Apparel (+27.2 percent ca), based on strong demand for its Running and Training as well as Sportstyle categories. Accessories growth was at 19.4 percent (ca), strongly supported by golf and its leg and bodywear business.

Puma’s Wholesale business increased by 24.3 percent (ca) to €1,202.0 million, despite lockdown-related store closures in several markets and supply chain constraints in North America. The direct-to-consumer business (DTC), which includes owned and operated retail stores as well as e-commerce, increased by 31.3 percent (ca) to €346.8 million, driven by strong growth in e-commerce of 74.9 percent (ca).

The gross profit margin in the first quarter improved by 90 basis points to 48.5 percent despite negative currency effects. The improvement in gross profit margin was driven by a better sell-through of its products and less promotional activity.

Operating expenses (OPEX) increased by 8.6 percent to €601.1 million due to higher sales-related, warehousing and distribution costs mainly driven by a strong increase in the e-commerce business as well as higher marketing investments.

The operating result (EBIT) in the first quarter increased significantly to €154.3 million (Q1 2020: €71.2 million) due to strong sales growth, higher gross profit margin and continued OPEX control. This resulted in an improved EBIT margin of 10.0 percent in the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2020: 5.5 percent).

Net earnings increased significantly from €36.2 million to €109.2 million and earnings per share were up from €0.24 in the first quarter of 2020 to €0.73 in the first quarter of 2021.

Working Capital
Puma said it was able to reduce its working capital by 6.2 percent from €788.7 million last year to €740.2 million as of March 31, 2021. Inventories increased by 8.3 percent from €1,129.9 million to €1,224.0 million. Trade receivables were up 36.5 percent from €672.0 million to €917.5 million due to strong sales growth in March. On the liabilities side, trade payables increased by 42.1 percent from €742.3 million to €1,054.9 million due to extended payment terms agreed with its suppliers.

Outlook 2021
Puma said in a statement, “The year 2021 started with an all-time high of COVID-19 cases globally and continued restrictions for our operations in numerous markets. At the end of April 2021, approximately 30 percent of the retail stores selling our products in Europe and Latin America are still closed due to lockdown measures and the remaining 70 percent are mostly operating with significant restrictions. With global COVID-19 cases rising again sharply, we also see new restrictions and lockdowns in other parts of the world such as India, Canada and Turkey. By consequence, we foresee a continued negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business throughout 2021. In addition, supply chain issues due to container shortages and port congestion especially in North America as well as recent political tensions in key markets are also leading to increased uncertainty in our industry.

“Despite all these uncertainties, our sales grew by 25.8 percent (ca) and our EBIT increased by 116.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021, underlining the relevance and momentum of our brand even in a difficult market environment. Given a strong first quarter, we are now in a position to further specify our initial outlook of “at least moderate sales (ca) growth with upside potential” to “mid-teens sales (ca) growth” for the full year 2021. Our outlook for both the operating result and net earnings has not changed and we continue to foresee a significant improvement compared to 2020 despite the global uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not provide a detailed outlook on our gross profit margin and our OPEX ratio as their development will mainly depend on the duration and development of the COVID-19 pandemic and the timing and negative impact of corresponding restrictions on our sales.

“We will continue to manage the negative implications of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as we can in the short-term and are convinced that Puma will emerge stronger from this crisis. Our strong and profitable growth in the first quarter, a very positive order book and strong product pipeline for the rest of the year and very good feedback from retail partners and consumers make us confident for the mid-term success and growth of Puma.”

Photo courtesy Puma