Shares of Nike Inc. moved up — and over the $100 mark — in after-hours trading Thursday, following the company’s report of lower second-quarter earnings that still easily beat Wall Street estimates.

This story first appeared in the December 21, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The results were highlighted by double-digit sales and earnings growth in North America, tempered by lower margins overall and sales and profit declines in China.

In the three months ended Nov. 30, net income fell 18.1 percent to $384 million, or 84 cents a diluted share, from $469 million, or $1, in the comparable 2011 period. Excluding discontinued operations — the Umbro brand sold to Iconix Brand Group Inc. at a $107 million after-tax loss, and the Cole Haan unit is in the process of being sold to Apax Partners — earnings per share for continuing operations were $1.14, comfortably ahead of $1 result expected by Wall Street.

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Revenues from continuing operations grew 7.4 percent, to $5.96 billion from $5.55 billion, and were up 10 percent on a constant currency basis. Nike’s closely watched futures-orders metric stood at $9.3 billion, up 6 percent.

Gross margin contracted 30 basis points to 42.5 percent of sales, as favorable pricing and raw-material costs were offset by higher labor costs and currency fluctuation.

Shares advanced $1.22, or 1.3 percent, to $99 during the trading day and rose another $5.15, or 5.2 percent, to $104.15 following the disclosure of results.

The Nike brand’s footwear and apparel businesses registered similar sales increases, with footwear up 6.7 percent to $3.3 billion and apparel ahead 7.2 percent to $1.8 billion. North America, the brand’s biggest market, generated the largest increases in both sales and profitability, with sales expanding 17.2 percent to $2.42 billion and operating income moving up 30.5 percent to $556 million.

Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer, told participants on an early evening conference call, “In North America we created great momentum. This is somewhat counterintuitive to some, given this market’s size and assumed maturity. But I see tremendous growth opportunity in North America fueled by continued success in transforming the marketplace along category lines.”

Charlie Denson, president of the Nike brand, cited double-digit growth in running, basketball and men’s training for the successful North American performance. Also contributing to the strong showing was Nike’s launch of National Football League merchandise. “We delivered a new level of performance and style for every player in the NFL,” he said.

In China, the only market to experience sales or profit declines, sales pulled back 11.2 percent, to $577 million, while operating income slid 15.9 percent to $185 million. Donald Blair, chief financial officer, said on the company call that gross margin in China improved “as the impact to clean up the [distribution in the] market was more than offset by the benefits of higher prices and easing raw-material costs.” He noted other positive signs in China — including lower inventory levels, improving comparable-store sales and higher apparel sell-throughs — as the company works to better tailor its assortments and marketing to the Chinese market.

“That said, we still expect lower revenue and [earnings before interest and taxes] from this geography over the next few quarters as we work to position our business to realize [its] tremendous growth potential,” Blair said.

For the first half of the year, net income, including discontinued operations and associated costs, fell 14.6 percent to $951 million, or $2.07 a diluted share, as revenues rose 8.7 percent to $12.43 billion. The discontinued Umbro and Cole Haan operations are excluded from revenue figures.

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