Net Income Rises 14% to euro 260 Million Currency-neutral Sales Up 5%

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, March 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ –

* Gross margin of 44.9%; highest ever

* Income before taxes grows 12%

* Net borrowings reduced by euro 552 million; financial leverage of 70% lowest since the acquisition of Salomon and TaylorMade

* Key performance metrics expected to improve further in 2004

Currency-neutral sales up 5% in 2003

In 2003, currency-neutral sales for the adidas-Salomon Group grew 5%. In euro terms, sales declined 4% to reach euro 6.267 billion in 2003 from euro 6.523 billion in 2002.

Brand adidas leads segment growth in 2003

From a brand perspective, adidas posted the most substantial gains with sales up 5% on a currency-neutral basis. Primary contributors to this growth were the Sport Performance running and training categories. Salomon sales were up 2% on a currency-neutral basis, mainly as a result of higher sales of Mavic cycling components, outdoor footwear and Salomon apparel. TaylorMade-adidas Golf sales grew 4% on a currency-neutral basis. Strong increases in the TaylorMade iron and putter categories as well as at adidas Golf more than offset the negative sales effect from the non-renewal of a licensing and distribution agreement with Slazenger Golf at the end of 2002 as well as lower metalwood and golf ball sales. Currency effects from a strong euro, especially versus the US dollar, negatively impacted sales in euro terms. At brand adidas, sales in euro terms declined 3% to euro 4.950 billion in 2003 from euro 5.105 billion in 2002. Salomon sales in euros were down 4% to euro 658 million from euro 684 million in the prior year, and TaylorMade-adidas Golf sales in euro terms declined by 10% to euro 637 million from euro 707 million in 2002.

On a regional basis, currency-neutral sales for adidas-Salomon in Europe grew 8%. The major drivers of this growth were strong increases in Italy and the UK as well as continued solid performance in France and the emerging markets. In North America, Group sales declined 6% on a currency-neutral basis, reflecting a weakness in demand for most adidas product lines. In Asia, sales increased 7% on a currency-neutral basis driven by stronger sales in Japan, China and India. Latin America was the fastest growing region for the Group in 2003 with currency-neutral sales up 35%, reflecting particularly strong performance in Brazil and Argentina. Once again, the strong euro negatively impacted sales in euro terms. Sales in euros for adidas-Salomon in Europe increased 5% to euro 3.365 billion in 2003 from euro 3.200 billion in 2002. In North America, sales in euros declined 20% to euro 1.562 billion in 2003 versus euro 1.960 billion in the prior year. In euro terms, sales in Asia were down 4% to euro 1.116 billion from euro 1.166 billion in 2002, and in Latin America sales in euros grew 10% to reach euro 179 million in 2003 versus euro 163 million in 2002.

Group gross margin at record level of 44.9%

The adidas-Salomon gross margin grew 1.7 percentage points to 44.9% of sales in 2003, up from 43.2% in 2002. This is the highest level ever and reflects the impact of increased adidas own-retail activities, an improving product mix and the stronger euro. As a result of this development, the Group’s gross profit remained virtually unchanged at euro 2.814 billion versus euro 2.819 billion in 2002 despite lower sales in euro terms.

Operating expenses reduced

Operating expenses, including selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) and depreciation and amortization (without goodwill), declined by 1% to euro 2.324 billion in 2003 from euro 2.343 billion in 2002. As a percentage of sales, however, operating expenses increased 1.2 percentage points to 37.1% in 2003 (2002: 35.9%). The main contributors to this increase were the continued expansion of own-retail activities and the extension of promotion and advertising contracts with renegotiatedonditions. As a result of these developments, operating profit for the Group increased 3% to euro 490 million in 2003 from euro 477 million in 2002 and operating margin increased 0.5 percentage points to 7.8% in 2003 from 7.3% in 2002.

Income before taxes increases 12%

Income before taxes grew 12% to euro 438 million in 2003, compared to euro 390 million in the prior year. Operational progress was enhanced by significantly lower financial expenses which declined 44%. Lower average debt levels and interest rates contributed to the better result. In addition, financial expenses in 2002 included non-recurring negative currency effects from devaluations of foreign currencies in Brazil, Turkey and Argentina. These were not repeated in 2003.

Net income grows 14% to highest ever level

Net income increased by 14% to a record level of euro 260 million in 2003 from euro 229 million in 2002. Basic and diluted earnings per share, both at euro 5.72 in comparison to euro 5.04 in 2002, were at the upper end of the Group’s targeted earnings range. Minority interests, which declined by 17%, and a fairly stable tax rate at 38.0% (2002: 37.9%) supported the Group’s favorable net income level.

adidas-Salomon Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer stated: “Despite tough market conditions due to global uncertainties and exchange rate differentials, which widened throughout the year, our financials clearly indicate that we have made major headway in the past twelve months. We grew our currency- neutral sales in 2003 by 5%, delivered a record gross margin and posted our highest earnings ever. These achievements reflect our Group’s commitment and ability to continuously deliver high-quality financial performance.”

Net borrowings reduced by euro 552 million

Net borrowings at December 31, 2003 were euro 946 million, down 37% or euro 552 million versus euro 1.498 billion at the end of the prior year. This represents the largest reduction in the Group’s history, supported by continued strict working capital management. In addition, positive currency effects and the equity increase related to the Group’s convertible bond issue positively impacted net borrowings. As a consequence, the Group’s financial leverage improved 69 percentage points to 70% in 2003 versus 139% in the prior year.

Successful working capital management continues

As a result of focused working capital reduction initiatives undertaken throughout 2003, inventories were reduced by 2% to euro 1.164 billion in 2003 from euro 1.190 billion in 2002 with improvements at all brands within the Group. On a currency-neutral basis, inventories increased 5%, which is in line with sales growth expectations for 2004. Receivables were reduced by 17% to euro 1.075 billion versus euro 1.293 billion in the prior year. On a currency- neutral basis, the decline was 10% reflecting strict discipline in the Group’s trade terms management as well as concerted collection efforts at all brands. In addition, year-end receivables development was positively impacted by lower fourth quarter revenues in North America compared to the particularly strong sales in the region during the same period in the prior year.

Recommended dividend of euro 1.00 per share

The adidas-Salomon Executive and Supervisory Boards will recommend a dividend of euro 1.00 per share for the 2003 fiscal year at the Annual General Meeting on May 13, 2004. With a total payout of over euro 45 million the proposal represents a payout ratio of 17% of net income and reflects adidas- Salomon’s continued commitment to improve the Group’s financial position while also creating substantial value for the shareholders. This proposal is in line with the Group’s dividend policy, which recommends a payout ratio of between 15 and 20% of consolidated net income.

Fourth quarter sales at euro 1.354 billion currency-neutral

In the fourth quarter of 2003, adidas-Salomon sales declined by 4% on a currency-neutral basis mainly as a result of unfavorable comparisons with the prior year period, where sales in North America and at TaylorMade-adidas Golf were particularly strong. In euro terms, sales decreased 10% to euro 1.354 billion in 2003 from euro 1.511 billion in 2002. Gross margin increased 5.4 percentage points versus the prior year to 47.8% of sales (2002: 42.5%). Fourth quarter operating profit decreased 37% to euro 42 million in 2003 from euro 66 million in 2002. Net income reached euro 27 million. This equates to basic earnings per share of euro 0.58 and represents a decrease of 9% versus the prior year (2002: euro 29 million or euro 0.64 per share).

Year-end order backlogs reflect mixed development

adidas currency-neutral order backlogs at the end of 2003 grew 2% versus the prior year. This increase was mainly driven by apparel backlog growth of 13% which represents the highest apparel order increase in more than four years and highlights the strength of the adidas “Apparel Breakthrough” initiative. Footwear orders declined 7%, reflecting weakness in North America due to declines in all major categories except football. In euro terms, brand adidas order backlogs declined 5%.

Net income growth of at least 10% expected for 2004

Based on early market indications, as well as backlog development and feedback from retailers, the Group expects currency-neutral sales growth of around 3 to 5% in 2004. Higher sales at key brands, coupled with higher gross margins and an improving operating margin, are expected to produce net income growth of at least 10% versus the prior year.

Herbert Hainer continued: “We are now concentrating all our efforts on strengthening our position in 2004. The European Football Championships in Portugal and the Summer Olympics in Athens are events which will enthuse athletes and consumers the world over. Our products and brands will be center stage and, propelled by our new “Impossible is Nothing” brand campaign, we are looking to deliver top- and bottom-line growth in 2004 and beyond.”ult of unfavorable comparisons with the prior year period, where sales in North America and at TaylorMade-adidas Golf were particularly strong. In euro terms, sales decreased 10% to euro 1.354 billion in 2003 from euro 1.511 billion in 2002. Gross margin increased 5.4 percentage points versus the prior year to 47.8% of sales (2002: 42.5%). Fourth quarter operating profit decreased 37% to euro 42 million in 2003 from euro 66 million in 2002. Net income reached euro 27 million. This equates to basic earnings per share of euro 0.58 and represents a decrease of 9% versus the prior year (2002: euro 29 million or euro 0.64 per share).

Year-end order backlogs reflect mixed development

adidas currency-neutral order backlogs at the end of 2003 grew 2% versus the prior year. This increase was mainly driven by apparel backlog growth of 13% which represents the highest apparel order increase in more than four years and highlights the strength of the adidas “Apparel Breakthrough” initiative. Footwear orders declined 7%, reflecting weakness in North America due to declines in all major categories except football. In euro terms, brand adidas order backlogs declined 5%.

Net income growth of at least 10% expected for 2004

Based on early market indications, as well as backlog development and feedback from retailers, the Group expects currency-neutral sales growth of around 3 to 5% in 2004. Higher sales at key brands, coupled with higher gross margins and an improving operating margin, are expected to produce net income growth of at least 10% versus the prior year.

Herbert Hainer continued: “We are now concentrating all our efforts on strengthening our position in 2004. The European Football Championships in Portugal and the Summer Olympics in Athens are events which will enthuse athletes and consumers the world over. Our products and brands will be center stage and, propelled by our new “Impossible is Nothing” brand campaign, we are looking to deliver top- and bottom-line growth in 2004 and beyond.”