BEAVERTON, Ore. — Although apparel volume lagged, better overall margins in Asia and Europe helped lift Nike Inc.’s first-quarter earnings 22.2 percent to $200.2 million, or 70 cents a diluted share, from $163.8 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier.
Revenues were essentially flat at $2.5 billion. Global footwear revenues climbed 4 percent while global apparel sales fell 6 percent, Nike said.
Gross margins in the quarter improved to 38.6 percent of sales from 37.6 percent a year earlier. Nike saw “sharply improved gross margins in Europe and Asia,” Philip H. Knight, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. Selling, general and administrative expenses were cut to 25 percent of revenues from 26.1 percent, he said.
In the U.S., Nike brand revenues slipped 2 percent to $1.3 billion. Athletic apparel revenues fell 11 percent to $332 million and athletic footwear revenues climbed 3 percent to $941 million.
“Our brand strength in the U.S. has been gaining momentum through the back-to-school period, particularly in our higher-end footwear,” Knight said. “U.S. apparel is by no means ‘fixed’ but we did see some signs that the revenue decrease is mitigating.”