Nike (NYSE:NKE) reported results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 after the market close Thursday. The sports apparel titan's revenue and earnings came in above Wall Street's expectations.
Nike's revenue rose 5%, to $7.8 billion, slightly above consensus estimates of $7.69 billion. On a currency-neutral basis, Nike's sales growth was a more impressive 13%. Helping to fuel that growth was a currency-neutral 13% increase in Nike brand revenue, to $7.4 billion, and a 14% jump in Converse revenue, to $435 million.
Nike enjoyed broad-based currency-neutral growth in all its geographic segments except emerging markets, which fell 3%, including double-digit growth in North America (14%), Western Europe (17%), Central & Eastern Europe (20%), Greater China (20%), and Japan (19%).
Higher average selling prices and strong growth in Nike's higher-margin Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) business benefited gross margin, which rose 60 basis points, to 46.2%. That improved profitability, combined with a lower effective tax rate, led to a 24% surge in net income, to $865 million, with share buybacks helping Nike's EPS rise 26%, to $0.98 -- well above analysts' estimates of $0.83.
Fiscal 2015 results
The 2015 full-year results were equally impressive. Fiscal 2015 revenues rose 10%, to $30.6 billion, and 14% excluding currency changes. Nike's DTC business continues to be a bright spot, with DTC revenues leaping 29% on a currency-neutral basis, to $6.6 billion, driven by new store openings, 16% comparable-store sales growth, and a 59% surge in online sales.
Higher gross margin and lower taxes also benefited full-year results. All told, fiscal 2015 earnings per share rose an impressive 25%, to $3.70.
Nike's worldwide futures orders scheduled for delivery through November 2015 totaled $13.5 billion. That represents year-over-year growth of 2%, and 13% on a currency-neutral basis.
"Fiscal 2015 was an outstanding year for NIKE," added CEO Mark Parker. "Our consistent growth is fueled by our connection to the consumer and our ability to deliver innovation at an unprecedented pace and scale. At no time in our history has the growth potential been greater for NIKE."
With a brand as strong as Nike's, and so many growth opportunities still ahead, it's easy to see why Nike's management is so optimistic.
Joe Tenebruso has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.