A shoe is displayed in the Nike store in Santa Monica, California, September 25, 2013. NIKE, Inc. plans to release its first quarter fiscal 2014 financial results on Thursday, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS ... SPORT) - RTX13ZXY (Reuters)

Nike's 2Q Profits Inch Up 3%, Sales Trail Forecasts

By Earnings FOXBusiness

Nike (NKE) narrowly topped forecasts with a 3% increase in fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday but logged below-consensus sales.

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Shares of the iconic footwear and apparel maker initially ticked slightly lower in extended trading before flatlining.

Nike said it earned $537 million, or 59 cents a share, last quarter compared with a profit of $521 million, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of 58 cents.

Revenue rose 8% to $6.4 billion, narrowly missing the Street’s view of $6.44 billion. Gross margins expanded to 43.9% from 42.5%.

Global future orders, a closely-watched metric, stood at $10.4 billion, which is 12% higher than the year-earlier period. Analysts had expected futures to rise just 9.7%.

Nike said its inventories climbed 11% to $3.7 billion. Expenses jumped 14% to $2.1 billion.

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"Our strong second quarter results show why Nike leads the industry," Nike CEO Mark Parker said in a statement. "Our powerful portfolio fuels growth across our categories and geographies."

Nike said its North American sales jumped 9% to $2.8 billion, while sales in Western Europe climbed 18% to $1.07 billion amid the continent’s improving economy. Sales in Central and Eastern Europe rose 17% to $295 million, outpacing an 8% gain in Greater China to $629 million.

Shares of Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike gained 0.31% to $78.50 in extended trading on Thursday evening.

Last month, Nike bumped its dividend up by 14% in an effort to return more cash to shareholders.

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