Shares of Nike Inc (NKE 1.51%) were edging higher after the bell today, up 2.5% following the release of its third-quarter earnings report. The sneaker king bested estimates on top and bottom lines, posting earnings per share of $0.76 and revenue of $6.97 billion, up 13% from a year ago. Analysts had expected $0.72 and $6.69 billion, respectively. Per-share profit increased 4% from a year ago, but would have moved up in line with revenue had it not been for negative foreign currency translation.
Other indicators were also moving in the right direction, as gross margin improved 30 basis points, to 44.5%, and future orders increased 12%, or 14% on a currency-neutral basis, to $10.9 billion. In addition, Nike repurchased $788 million worth of shares in the quarter, helping to reduce the number of shares outstanding by slightly more than 1%. Sales were particuarly strong in Western Europe, the company's second biggest region, growing 22%, while revenue increased 17% in Central and Eastern Europe. Orders were also up 33% in Western Europe, but declined slightly in Japan and China.
CEO Mark Parker called the results "strong" and said the quarter is evidence that the company's strategy of focusing on "the biggest opportunities for growth" is working. Nike did not provide guidance for the current quarter.