"Swoosh!" can best describe the sound heard over China as Nike (NYSE:NKE) reorganized itself in August to better exploit the opportunities it sees there.

Previously, China was part of Nike's Asia Pacific operating segment, which included 13 countries. Under the new structure, Greater China has become its own operating unit and Nike is focused on China's youth.

At the company's annual shareholders' meeting in late September, Nike President and CEO Mark Parker called the Olympics in Beijing "the biggest win of all" for Nike in fiscal 2009. For 2009, Nike's revenue in China grew by 22% year over year, on a currency-neutral basis. By comparison, its revenue growth in the U.S. for the same period was only 2%. However, during a year full of economic crisis, the fact that Nike grew revenue at all proves that it remains a fierce global competitor.

At the meeting, management was asked about the competitive threat posed by Li Ning, a Chinese footwear and apparel company that had revenue of more than $1 billion -- second only to Nike in China. Parker responded, "We don't take any competitor lightly ... I think if you look at our brand strength in China, our market share position and how both of those have actually grown considerably over the last five to seven years, we feel very strong about our position there." In other words ... meiwenti​ (that's Mandarin for no problem).

In terms of total revenue, net income, and operating margins, Nike is the clear winner among its competitors, as shown in the chart below.


TTM Revenue

TTM Net Income

TTM Operating Margins


$18.5 billion

$1.49 billion


Under Armour (NYSE:UA)

$775.9 million

$39.4 million


Columbia Sportswear (NASDAQ:COLM)

$1.3 billion

$73.9 million


Timberland (NYSE:TBL)

$1.3 billion

$40.4 million


Callaway Golf (NYSE:ELY)

$958.8 million

$3.1 million



$2.6 billion

$74.4 million


Skechers USA (NYSE:SKX)

$1.3 billion

$10.2 million


TTM = trailing 12 months. Data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Its operating margins are much higher than those of competitors, and Nike has a strategy to further increase those margins by eliminating its least-popular styles. The company has 600 to 700 styles in the works at any one time. According to Parker, "that's too many." The CEO added: "So we have a big focus or initiative at Nike, what we call edit and amplify. So we're really trying to edit the product down to fewer and better product."

The summer Olympic Games in Beijing last year truly vaulted Nike into China's culture. The company sponsored athletes in almost every event and became the Games' brand of choice. As Nike continues to promote events such as "The Nike+ Human Race," it is sure to attract more and more Chinese youth. This running event showcases the Nike Plus technology developed with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Last year, the race featured 780,000 participants worldwide, and it's scheduled for Oct. 24 this year. I'm off to get myself some of those cool Nike Plus shoes so I can play along, too.

Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. Under Armour is also a Rule Breakers recommendation, and Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Angelique Keenley, The Motley Fool's director-ish HR Fool, does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned in this article, but really is going to get some of those shoes after running (pun intended) across the cool Nike Plus Shoe insert thingy last night on a completely unrelated shopping trip. The Fool has a disclosure policy.