Nike Inc. said stronger sales helped boost its third-quarter profit and its shares soared in after-hours trading Wednesday.
Nike, the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company, reported after the market closed that it earned $496 million, or $1.01 per share, for the quarter. That's more than double the $244 million, or 50 cents per share, it reported for the same period a year earlier, which included a $241 million charge related to the company's Umbro subsidiary.
Excluding those charges, Nike's profit grew a more modest 2 percent.
Nike said its revenue grew 7 percent to $4.7 billion, helped in part by foreign exchange rates.
The results beat the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who on average predicted a profit of 89 cents per share on revenue of $4.6 billion for the quarter. Analysts typically exclude one-time items.
"Nike is more than a survivor in these tough economic times," CEO Mark Parker told investors on a conference call. "We were able to manage up and through the recession to expand separation for our brands and our businesses."
Nike hasn't returned to its normal revenue and profit growth trajectory but is seeing improving demand in most markets, the company's leaders said.
It said its revenue grew in by a single-digit percentage in its key markets of Western Europe and the U.S., but more sharply in China and other emerging markets. Nike's revenue fell in other parts of Europe and in Japan.
Orders for Nike products to be delivered from March through July are 9 percent higher than orders for the same period last year, but the company is reading the tea leaves with caution.
"While we are more optimistic than 12 months ago, worldwide consumer confidence hasn't recovered fully," Chief Financial Officer Don Blair said.
Nike said it will continue to keep a tight control on its costs and inventory, and its margins have improved.
It is banking heavily on its clothing business, which it has been revamping. And it is looking forward to an array of major sporting events — such as The Master's tournament, the NBA Playoffs and the World Cup — to boost sales of related gear.
Company leaders did not discuss the impact that Tiger Woods' return to golf would have on its business.
"We have continued to lead the industry by challenging ourselves to become better at every turn," Parker said. "It all points to one word, momentum. While others froze or retrenched over the past two years, we never stopped moving ... because we never stopped, it is easier for us to gain speed and momentum."
Nike's shares rose $3.09, more than 4 percent, to $73.47 in after-hours trading.
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