By  on September 20, 2005

NEW YORK — Nike Inc. delivered another blockbuster quarter Monday, driven by higher-than-expected sales in the U.S. and robust growth across product categories and regions.

Profits in the first quarter ended Aug. 31 climbed 32.3 percent to $432.3 million, or $1.61 a share, up from $326.8 million, or $1.21, a year ago. The first-quarter results exceeded analysts' expectations of $1.42 and sent the stock surging to $83.46, up $4.99, in New York Stock Exchange trading.

Revenues jumped 8.4 percent to $3.86 billion from $3.56 billion. The first-quarter performance from the world's largest athletic company follows a stellar fiscal year, when it posted a 28.1 percent jump in profits on a 12 percent gain in sales.

"A strong product pipeline and our global management team's ability to consistently execute across our brand portfolio drove very strong performance in the first quarter," William D. Perez, Nike's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

However, one soft spot was domestic apparel sales, which rose 1 percent in the U.S., partly because of the expiration of Nike's National Basketball Association license, Donald W. Blair, Nike's vice president and chief financial officer, said on a conference call. The company also is facing increased competition now that Adidas has bought Reebok in a bid to improve its business in the U.S., and from smaller, more nimble competitors such as Under Armour.

Blair said on the call that footwear sales in the U.S. "have been one of the most important drivers of growth in revenue and profits over the past few quarters." Overall revenues in the U.S. grew 8 percent to $1.5 billion, with footwear gaining 11 percent to $1 billion, as apparel edged up 1 percent to $395.5 million and equipment gained four percent to $92.3 million.

Nike's "other businesses unit," which includes Converse, Bauer Nike, Cole Haan, Hurley and its Exeter Brands Group, reported a 6 percent sales gain to $462.3 million.

On the international front, revenues in the European region, which includes the Middle East and Africa, grew 5 percent to $1.22 billion, helped by favorable exchange rates. Asia-Pacific region sales gained 13 percent to $459.6 million, while the Americas region posted a 32 percent increase to $213.7 million, Nike said.

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