New Ball, Other World Cup Merchandise Boost Adidas Sales

Adidas AG has gotten a big kick from sales of its official World Cup ball since it debuted in December.

CEO Herbert Hainer said Wednesday that since the Teamgeist ball — German for "team spirit" — went on sale, about 15 million of the 14-panel balls have been scooped up by buyers worldwide. The retail price averages $113 to $138.

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Hainer said the sales results already have exceeded the company's initial forecast of 10 million. They also are better than the 6 million copies sold of the company's previous World Cup ball, the Fevernova, from 2002.

Players at the World Cup have given the Teamgeist ball a mixed reception. Some say its design makes it travel farther when kicked, while goalkeepers have grumbled that it is harder to stop.

Adidas has developed balls for every World Cup tournament since 1970, when it debuted the Telstar with its array of 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons.

The company said the 2006 tournament should help provide more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in revenue from soccer-related products, including shoes and replica jerseys. In all of 2005, Adidas had 6.6 billion euros in sales, with 434 million euros in profit.

Despite the sales news, shares of Adidas were down less than a quarter of a percent to 36.37 euros ($45.70) in Frankfurt trading.

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