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

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 Profit Up 16% on Higher Demand for Apparel, Shoes

Earnings Reuters

Nike Inc's (NKE) profit beat market estimates as the world's largest sportswear maker sold more shoes and apparel at higher margins.

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Nike also said on Thursday orders for shoes and apparel scheduled for delivery from March through July 2015, a gauge of demand Nike calls "futures orders," rose 11 percent globally, excluding the impact of currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Analysts on average expected global futures orders to grow 9.9 percent, excluding currency fluctuations, according to Consensus Metrix.

Demand for the company's Jordan, LeBron, Kobe and KD basketball shoe brands have been strong in the United States. The company's running shoe brands, including Free 5.0, Roshe Run, Huarache, and Max Air, have also been doing well.

Sports apparel and equipment retailer Foot Locker Inc <FL.N> said earlier this month Jordan and Nike's running shoe brands helped its fourth-quarter comparable sales, which increased 10 percent.

Nike said on Thursday its gross margin expanded 1.4 percentage point to 45.9 percent in the third quarter ended Feb. 28.

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Sales of footwear, the company's largest and most profitable business, rose 8 percent, while apparel sales rose 3 percent, Nike said.

Revenue from North America rose 6 percent in the quarter, while sales in western Europe jumped 10 percent.

Sales jumped 15 percent in China, where Nike has grappled with excess inventory and intense competition from rivals cutting prices in recent years.

Total revenue increased 7 percent to $7.46 billion.

Net income rose 16 percent to $791 million, or 89 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 84 cents on revenue of $7.62 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das)