By  on June 26, 2008

Nike Inc. posted another strong quarter, as earnings gained 12 percent on robust international growth.

The fourth-quarter numbers beat analysts' forecasts, but more modest U.S. growth lowered the stock price of the athleticwear giant in after-hours trading.

For the three months ended May 31, net income for the Beaverton, Ore.-based firm climbed to $490.5 million, or 98 cents a diluted share, from $437.9 million, or 86 cents, in the same year-ago period.

Revenues for the quarter increased 16 percent to $5.1 billion compared with $4.4 billion the previous year.

For fiscal 2008, earnings jumped 26 percent to $1.9 billion, or $3.74 a diluted share, from $1.5 billion, or $2.93, in fiscal 2007. Sales for the year grew 14 percent to $18.6 billion from $16.3 billion last year.

Futures orders from June 2008 to November 2008 increased 11 percent to $8.8 billion, the company's 30th consecutive quarter that futures increased.

The active giant, which is outfitting athletes at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, reported growth across all regions, with revenues rising 39 percent in Asia and 19 percent in Europe. In addition, the weakness of the dollar propelled growth for the business, which is about two-thirds global.

Several regions, including China and the Americas, passed $1 billion in revenues this year. "It's a testament to the potential Nike has in emerging markets," said Mark Parker, Nike Inc. president and chief executive officer.

However, the company said the U.S. saw more modest growth of 4 percent to $1.7 billion for the quarter. Unlike the global markets, which benefited from favorable currency exchange rates, Nike's largest and most mature market continued its trend of more paced growth for the year and quarter, and futures orders were flat.

The company's "other business" sector, which includes Converse Inc., Nike Golf, Cole Haan and Umbro, grew 15 percent to $749.5 million for the fourth quarter. According to Parker, on an after-market earnings call, "the big story continues to be Converse," which experienced 29 percent revenue growth to $2 billion in wholesale revenues for the year.

"Of course, the Nike brand will continue to be the strongest brand in our portfolio," Parker said. "Every region and category showed growth."Nike released its numbers after the stock market closed, and by 6 p.m., the stock price was down 6 percent to $62.15.

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