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Nike Reports Improved Earnings, Beats Estimates

Nike, the world's largest maker of athletic footwear and clothing, said that quarterly net profit rose to $325.6 million, or $1.28 per share, from $301.1 million, a year ago.

Sales growth in Asia and a tax agreement with the Dutch government boosted earnings 8% in the second quarter for the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company.

The tax benefit claimed from the Dutch agreement boosted earnings per share by 13 cents -- but even without that benefit, the company beat Wall Street estimates of $1.12 per share.

Sales increased 10% to $3.82 billion for the quarter ended Nov. 30, up from $3.47 billion in the same period last year. "How are we doing? In a word, I'd say good," Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said in a conference call with analysts.

The other brands owned by the company were doing particularly well, Parker said, especially Converse, with revenue up nearly 50%.

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He also hinted that Nike is interested in acquiring other companies to invest some of the cash it is building up. "There are no specific acquisitions on the radar screen right now," Parker said. "But I will add quickly that we are actively looking. I think in our history it's safe to say we've been a bit more reactive on the acquisition front, so we're taking a more proactive view."

John Shanley of Susquehanna Financial Group said other brands have become a significant contributor to the Nike bottom line. "Those other businesses now represent nearly 14% of total revenue," Shanley said. "It's a huge increase."

He noted that operating profit for other brands jumped to $54 million in the second quarter compared with $23 million last year, following a jump to $90 million in the first quarter compared with $40 million for the same period last year.

"That's really having a profound effect on their bottom line," Shanley said. "These are very profitable businesses. I think Converse, with that 50% increase in revenue, is clearly the driver there."

By region, sales rose 8% in the U.S. to $1.4 billion and 6% in Europe to $1 billion. Sales in the company's smaller Asia Pacific and Americas segments climbed 15% and 4%, respectively.

Nike also said changes in currency exchange rates boosted revenue growth by 1% in the recent quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected the company to earn $1.12 per share on $3.76 billion in sales. Nike also owns the Converse, Cole Haan, and Nike Bauer Hockey brands.

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