Nike Inc. reported on Thursday fiscal a second-quarter profit that rose to $655 million, or 74 cents a share, from $534 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. That topped the FactSet consensus analyst estimate for per-share earnings of 70 cents. The stock slipped 2.3% in after-hours trade, after gaining 2.7% during the regular session. The athletic apparel seller said sales for the quarter ended Nov. 30 increased 15% to $7.4 billion, above analyst forecasts of $7.15 billion, amid a 17% increase in Nike brand revenue to $7 billion and a 24% rise in Converse revenue to $434 million. Gross margin improved 1.2 percentage points to 45.1%, and inventories grew 11% to $4.2 billion. As of the end of the quarter, worldwide futures orders for Nike brand apparel and footwear from December 2014 through April 2015 were 7% higher than last year's the comparable period. The stock, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has rallied 23% this year through Thursday's close, while the Dow has gained 7.2%.
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