Shares of Adidas dropped 2 percent Thursday even as the group talked up its prospects in women’s and the U.S. after a strong fourth quarter and bullish outlook for 2016.
Adidas shares closed down at 96.88 euros, or $106.57 at current exchange. But shares are up more than 12 percent overall so far this year as the company accelerates its investments in marketing and gets set to bid adieu to chief executive officer Herbert Hainer, who will be succeeded by former Henkel top executive Kasper Rorsted this summer.
On Thursday, the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sporting goods maker said it was looking at a good year ahead after reporting its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to 44 million euros, or $48.2 million, from 139 million euros, or $184.7 million, at the back of strong sales.
Hainer stated that “2015 was a very successful year. We reached all of our major financial goals and exceeded our initial top- and bottom-line targets. Today we are stronger and in better shape than ever before.”
The executive remained optimistic about 2016, which will see the European soccer championships in France, the Copa America in the U.S. and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, further boosting the company’s soccer business, which closed 2015 at an all-time high, logging 2.2 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, in revenue.
As reported, Adidas raised guidance for 2016, expecting to grow at double-digit speed this year. On Thursday, Hainer projected the rate to be between 10 percent and 12 percent for both sales and net income, the latter of which would amount to around 800 million euros, or $868.7 million. He called this “a major achievement considering the severity of this year’s sourcing cost increase.”
For 2016, Adidas has plans to target women and North America in particular, where the group, billed as the second largest sporting goods maker, has been losing share to its archrival Nike and fast-growing Under Armour.
The company just launched Avenue A, a women-only subscription service that offers a curated surprise box with premium running and training products. Subscribers will receive four boxes a year at a cost of $150 per box.
In North America, Adidas upped marketing spending by more than 50 percent in 2015, which already brought the company a 5 percent rise in sales. “We increased shop-in-shops at Footlocker from 20 a year ago to 200 and will significantly increase our retail presence in the U.S. going forward,” said Hainer. In the second half of the year, the firm is also slated to open a mega-flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue, totaling 43,000 square feet.
Adidas said net income rose 68.7 percent in the three months ending Dec. 31, despite a marketing spend 31 percent higher vis-à-vis the same year-ago period.
The results were also impacted by non-operational goodwill impairment losses totaling 34 million euros, or $37.8 million, for the year, mainly related to its Russian and Latin American businesses, of which 16 million, or $17.8 million, occurred in the fourth quarter.
Sales for the group advanced 12 percent in currency-neutral terms. They totaled 4.2 billion euros, or $4.6 billion, in the quarter, driven by Adidas, up 16 percent, and Reebok, up 5 percent.
Dollar figures are converted from the euro at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
For the full year, net income rose 29 percent to 640 million euros, or $710.6 million, while currency-neutral group sales jumped 10 percent to a record 16.9 billion euros, or $18.4 billion, driven by double-digit sales growth in Western Europe, Greater China and Latin America as well as the Middle East, Africa and Asia region.
By category, running gave Adidas a healthy boost through the launch of Ultra Boost, which has sold over 10 million pairs since it launched in early 2015. Within Adidas Originals, up 36 percent in the year, Superstar sold 15 million pairs; the brand’s new franchise NMD sold out within a weekend following its launch in December, while Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost became the most popular sneaker on Instagram in 2015, according to Hainer.
A weak link in the company’s portfolio remained TaylorMade-adidas Golf, down 13 percent in 2015. Hainer said he was waiting for a strategic review to be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2016 before deciding whether to keep or sell the ailing business.