Rihanna-Designed Sneakers Help Puma Top Fourth-Quarter Estimates

FENTY x PUMA by Rihanna - Arrivals - Fall 2016 New York Fashion Week

Rihanna attends FENTY x PUMA by Rihanna at 23 Wall Street in New York.

Photographer: Kris Connor/WireImage
  • Singer's full collection to be introduced later this year
  • Puma forecasts `high single-digit' sales growth in 2016

Sneakers designed by Rihanna helped Puma SE report fourth-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates.

The limited-edition “Creeper” shoes became the singer’s first footwear line for the German company when they went on sale in the second half of last year, bringing Puma attention on social media and in the press. A second line known as “Eskiva” followed in November, and the brand plans to introduce a full collection of shoes and apparel under the Fenty by Rihanna label later this year.

“She can sell sneakers and Puma is onto something here which we haven’t seen yet in the women’s area,” Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Gulden said at a press conference at the company’s headquarters Thursday.

Rihanna became Puma’s women’s creative director just over a year ago, helping the brand make inroads in the women’s market. That deal, and this summer’s Euro 2016 soccer tournament, could pad revenue in 2016, according to Berenberg analyst Zuzanna Pusz. Puma forecast sales this year will increase at a high single-digit rate, with gross margin expected to be the same as last year’s 45.5 percent.

Earnings before interest and tax were 10.9 million euros ($12.1 million), Puma said in a statement Thursday, up 2.6 percent from a year ago and ahead of the average 5.6 million-euro average analyst estimate. Revenue rose 17 percent, also beating estimates.

The shares fell 2.1 percent to 180.3 euros as of 11:20 a.m. in Frankfurt. Puma is still being weighed down by the strength of the dollar, which also hurt profit at the beginning of last year. The gross margin on footwear fell to 38.6 percent in the fourth quarter, from 41.6 percent a year ago.

Fourth-quarter sales rose to 879 million euros, compared with analysts’ average estimate of 847.9 million euros. For 2015, Puma reported sales of 3.39 billion euros and Ebit of 96.3 million euros.

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