Nike Inc. continued to gain momentum in the second quarter, running up profits and sales as activewear continues to find favor among consumers.
Net income shot up 19.8 percent to $785 million, or 90 cents a diluted share, from $655 million, or 74 cents a year earlier. Earnings a share were driven by sales growth, a lower tax rate and share buybacks and came in 4 cents ahead of the 86 cents analysts projected.
Revenues for the third quarter ended Nov. 30 gained 4.1 percent to $7.69 billion from $7.38 billion. On a currency neutral basis, total revenues increased 12 percent while revenues for the Nike brand gained 13 percent to $7.3 billion, but were somewhat offset by Converse’s 5 percent decline to $398 million.
Nike.com revenues grew nearly 50 percent and the company plans to build a $7 billion e-commerce business by the end of 2020.
In a pep rally of a conference call with Wall Street, Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer, said: “Our complete offense — which includes our brands, geographies and categories — makes us flexible and keeps us close to the consumer so we can see and act on the opportunities in real time. We see it in the markets we transform, like China and Western Europe. And in the business as we accelerate, like women’s and the Jordan Brand. Our operational scale is second to none. We have the power to grow the entire marketplace and innovate through a global supply chain that shipped roughly 1.1 billion units this last year.”
Nike used its financial muscle to repurchase 5.6 million of its own shares during the quarter, shelling out $652 million under a four-year program to buy back $8 billion in stock. Last month, the company said that once the current program is spent, it would keep going and buy back another $12 billion worth of its shares over four years.
Buybacks are a sign of confidence from a company hitting its stride, a way of rewarding shareholders by concentrating their ownership, a goose for the stock and also an acknowledgement that Nike can’t or won’t use that money in a more productive manner.
Even without putting that money into play, Nike has plenty going on.
The company’s closely watched future orders for Nike brand footwear and apparel shows continued growth. Goods scheduled for delivery from this month through April showed growth of 15 percent versus a year ago, or 20 percent excluding currency changes.
The company is looking ahead to the Olympics and the European Championships next year with a full pipeline of goods.
Parker set his bar high in October, telling Wall Street that he was shooting for revenues of $50 billion by the end of 2020, up from a $30.6 billion last year.
“We are accelerating the pace of innovation across every area of our business to deliver the very best to athletes everywhere — when and where they want it,” he said at the time.