Nike (NKE) revealed a stronger-than-expected 55% leap in fiscal third-quarter earnings on Thursday and said global futures orders jumped 6% despite economic uncertainty.

Shares of the apparel and footwear maker soared 7% in after-hours trading on the earnings beat.

Nike said it earned $866 million, or 73 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $560 million, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had been calling for EPS of just 67 cents.

Revenue gained 9% to $6.19 billion, compared with the Street’s view of $6.23 billion. Gross margins expanded to 44.2% from 43.9%.

“Our team delivered strong results in Q3. We did it with a relentless flow of innovation into our key categories,” CEO Mark Parker said in a statement.

Nike said worldwide futures orders for footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery from March through July totaled $9.9 billion, representing growth of 6% year-over-year.

Nike said its North American sales rose 15% year-over-year to $1.69 billion, highlighted by a 49% leap in equipment sales to $158 million.

On the other hand, revenue in Greater China dropped 9% to $635 million amid an 11% slide in apparel sales. Revenue in emerging markets rose 6% to $839 million.

Despite the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, revenue in western Europe increased 8% to $1.04 billion, while sales in central and eastern Europe rose 16% to $318 million.

Wall Street cheered the results, bidding shares of Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike up 7.61% to $57.68 in extended trading on Thursday. Nike’s stock had been underperforming the broader markets, rising less than 4% on the year.

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