Nike Profit Boosted by Higher Sales, Prices

Nike Inc. (NKE), the world's largest athletic shoe company, said Thursday its profits rose 24 percent in the latest quarter, boosted by higher sales in U.S. and overseas markets and firmer retail prices.

Nike posted a profit of $305 million, or $1.13 per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter ended May 31, up from 92 cents or $246.2 million a year earlier and beating Wall Street forecasts.

Nike shares rose in after-hours trade following the release of earnings.

Revenue rose 17 percent to $3.5 billion in the quarter, boosted by robust international gains which were helped by changes in currency rates, the Beaverton, Ore.-based seller of Tiger Woods (search) golf apparel and Cole Haan (search) shoes said.

The strongest sales gains came in Europe, where sales surpassed $1 billion, up 16 percent from the prior-year period, with 14 percentage points attributed to favorable exchange rates. Sales in the Asia Pacific and the Americas markets also saw strong percentage gains, but from smaller bases.

Nike's largest market, the United States, saw more modest 6-percent revenue growth to $1.3 billion in the quarter.

The company's worldwide futures orders for athletic footwear and apparel for delivery between June and November, a key forward-looking indicator, rose 10.7 percent from a year ago to $5.5 billion.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had projected a profit of $1.07 per share.

Nike also said it completed a $1 billion share repurchase program implemented in 2000, and authorized a new four-year, $1.5 billion plan.

After the announcement Nike shares rose in after-hours trade to $74 from $72.40 at Thursday's New York Stock Exchange (search) close.