NEW YORK — Thumbs-up for Nike Inc.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based firm on Thursday posted a 61 percent jump in third-quarter earnings and shot up 181 percent in income for the nine months.

In the three months ended Feb. 29, income rose to $200.3 million, or 74 cents a diluted share, from $124.7 million, or 47 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Revenues gained 21 percent to $2.9 billion from $2.4 billion.

Philip H. Knight, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “It was another great quarter for Nike. Top- and bottom-line results were again driven by healthy consumer demand for innovative products and the strength of Nike’s diverse portfolio of businesses.”

U.S. apparel revenues rose 7 percent and represented $329.3 million of total U.S. revenues, which increased 4 percent to $1.17 billion from $1.13 billion. The bulk of the balance of revenues comes from athletic footwear and equipment sales. In the European region, which includes the Middle East and Africa, apparel revenues rose 19 percent to $284.1 million. Total European revenues grew 36 percent to $880 million, up from $645.8 million. Apparel revenues in the Asia Pacific region were up 30 percent to $150.1 million, while total revenues in Asia grew 21 percent to $402.4 million from $331.6 million last year. In the Americas, apparel revenues gained 21 percent to $36 million, with total revenues in the region rising 26 percent to $135 million. The gains in Europe, Asia and the Americas regions were partly attributable to currency exchange rates.

The company said worldwide futures orders for delivery between March and July of $4.7 billion represents a 9.9 percent increase from a year ago. Futures orders for the U.S., which recorded its strongest gain in eight quarters, were up 4.5 percent, while Europe grew by 11 percent. In Asia Pacific, orders jumped 23 percent, while the Americas increased by 11 percent. Some of the growth is attributed to currency exchange rates.

Don Blair, chief financial officer, said during a conference call that the company’s financial goals for fiscal 2005 were high-single-digit revenue growth, expanding profit margins and increased capital productivity and cash flow. Assuming a stable foreign exchange environment, he said, the company believes it can grow worldwide revenues in the “mid- to high-single digits.” The company will invest in driving its business through marketing campaigns surrounding the Tour de France, European football championships and the summer Olympics in Athens. For the first quarter, Blair said revenue growth will be in the “midteens,” with the quarter benefiting from the acquisition of Converse and favorable exchange rates.For the nine months, income spiked up 181 percent to $640.6 million, or $2.38, from $227.8 million, or 85 cents, a year ago. Revenues rose 14 percent to $8.77 billion from $7.71 billion.

Separately, Nike said it bought 754,900 shares of company stock for $53.6 million as part of its repurchase program announced in June 2000.

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