Nike (NYSE:NKE) may be preparing to issue a positive earnings report in just a few weeks. The sports apparel and footwear titan on Friday announced a hike to its dividend ahead of its fiscal second-quarter results due out on Dec. 18.

Nike raised its payout by 12% to $0.275 per share, which pushed it to $1.10 per share annually, up from $0.62 per share back in 2016.

A woman jogging over a bridge.

Image source: Getty Images.

The boost fit in with recent hikes by the management team even though this past year has been anything but normal. Nike raised its dividend by 11% last year and by 10% in the previous year. This latest hike came following a rare profit slump in fiscal 2020 due to COVID-19 retailing closures (Nike's fiscal year ends in late May).

The move might preview healthy earnings results for the fiscal second quarter on Dec. 18. Nike reported rebounding sales trends in both the U.S. and Chinese markets at its last outing and likely returned to solid growth in each geography over the past few months.

Meanwhile, management paused its stock repurchase spending at the start of the pandemic, but improving operating trends might have allowed that program to restart, too. Investors will learn about executives' plans for that cash return channel in the upcoming earnings report.

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