PARIS — Puma AG on Tuesday said third-quarter profit fell 5.2 percent, but the German activewear maker still beat most analysts' forecasts as sales spiked during soccer's World Cup this summer.

In related news, the company said it would couple with Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati on a lifestyle line for men and women next year.

Puma blamed higher marketing costs for the dip in third-quarter earnings, which slid to 87.1 million euros, or $110.9 million, from 91.9 million euros, or $117 million, a year earlier. Dollar figures have been converted at the average exchange rate.

Sales in the three months through Sept. 30 rose 30.3 percent to 699.2 million euros, or $890.2 million, from 536.4 million euros, or $682.9 million, in 2005. Puma confirmed its full-year target of 35 percent sales growth.

"We are more than pleased with our results for the third quarter and through the first nine months of 2006, as we will significantly exceed full-year guidance as part of our original Phase IV plan," chief executive Jochen Zeitz said in a statement. Phase IV of Puma's strategic plan includes aiming to establish the brand among the world's top three global sporting goods firms. According to Zeitz, the long-term goal was to make the company the world's most desirable sports lifestyle label.

By category, footwear sales increased 19.8 percent to 420 million euros, or $534.7 million, while apparel grew 57.5 percent to 235 million euros, or $299.2 million.

By region, sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa increased 9.4 percent to 378 million euros, or $481.3 million, while sales in the Americas soared 42.3 percent to 195 million euros, or $248.3 million. Sales in the Asia-Pacific region increased 134.9 percent to 126 million euros, or $160.4 million.

"Based on these results, we remain very confident in our ability to reach all of our Phase IV targets," Zeitz added.

In the first nine months of the year, the company's profits slipped 4.7 percent to 230.3 million euros, or $286.7 million, compared with 241.7 million euros, or $300.9 million, in the year-ago period. Sales rose to 1.89 billion euros, or $2.35 billion, from 1.43 billion euros, or $1.78 billion. Puma said the three-year partnership with Ducati should profit the Puma Moto line, which was introduced in the spring. "We aimed at teaming up with a brand that is deeply rooted in the core business of motor sport without neglecting the sport lifestyle component," Zeitz said. "We believe that this partnership is a perfect way to bring innovative motorcycle products to our consumers."The cobranded line with Ducati Motor Holding will hit select Ducati and Puma stores, as well as wholesale partner stores, next spring.

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