UPDATE 2-Germany's Puma expects more pain from currency swings
* Sportswear company has surprise fourth quarter net loss
* Strong U.S. dollar to hit profits in 2015
* Puma-backed sprinter Bolt plans to retire in 2017 (Adds details)
By Emma Thomasson
BERLIN, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Puma predicted a strong U.S. dollar and currency fluctuations would weigh on earnings this year after the German sportswear company suffered a surprise loss in the last three months of 2014.
Puma promised to take steps including price increases to blunt this impact, meaning it should be able to achieve a slight increase in core earnings and net profit in 2015.
The impact of the dollar strength was already evident in the fourth quarter when the company reported a net loss of 4.6 million euros ($5.25 million), compared with forecasts for a net profit of 7 million.
The sportswear industry sources the vast majority of products from Asia in U.S. dollar contracts. Puma said the weakness of the Russian rouble was also hurting, as was volatility in the Mexican and Argentine peso and Polish zloty.
The loss came despite a 7.5 percent rise in quarterly sales to 751 million euros that beat average analyst forecasts. Sales were driven by strong growth in the Americas, where Puma makes a third of its sales, up a currency adjusted 15 percent. Continuación...