Nike beats on earnings; future orders soar

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Shares of Nike were in record-high territory in premarket trading Wednesday, a day after the company delivered quarterly earnings that sprinted past analysts' expectations and topped predictions for future orders.

The fitness giant posted fiscal second-quarter earnings of 90 cents per share after the bell Tuesday, up from 74 cents in the year-earlier period. Wall Street had expected 86 cents, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters.

Beaverton, Oregon- based Nike also reported revenue of $7.69 billion, falling short of the $7.81 billion projected by analysts. Earnings per share grew faster than revenue due to gross margin expansion, a lower effective tax rate and a lower average share count, the company said.

Worldwide future orders of Nike brand athletic footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery from December 2015 through April 2016, a key metric for the company, soared 20 percent excluding currency impacts, blowing past the 14.1 percent estimated, Nike said.

"They've never grown futures as fast as 20 percent, and that's lapping pretty strong growth over the last couple of years," Kate McShane, managing director at Citi, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

In premarket trading, Nike shares were up 2.7 percent at $135.50, above an all-time closing high of $134.33 reached Nov. 27.

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"Our powerful global portfolio of businesses, combined with strong financial discipline, continue to drive significant shareholder value," Nike President and CEO Mark Parker said in a statement. "We see tremendous opportunity ahead as we enter an Olympic and European Championships year with a full pipeline of inspiring innovation for athletes everywhere."

In a move that boosted shares earlier this month, the company signed NBA star LeBron James to a lifetime deal. The stock has climbed about 36 percent this year, making Nike the top performer in the Dow Jones industrial average. New footwear launches in the basketball, running and sports categories are helping Nike draw customers toward higher-priced products, while the "athleisure" trend is driving sales in the athletic apparel sector, Reuters reported.

Revenue from North America, Nike's largest market, rose 10 percent in the quarter ended Nov. 30, currency-adjusted. Footwear sales in the region rose a currency-adjusted 13 percent.

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Every geography saw double-digit revenue growth in the quarter, according to Nike. Morningstar equity analyst Paul Swinand said he was especially looking toward performance in China, where the company saw a 30 percent growth rate in the fiscal first quarter and a 28 percent increase in the current release, adjusted for currency impacts.

"A big part of the long-run story for this stock is going to be the ability to connect with new customers in China, and also penetrating new fabric technologies and new sneaker technology," Swinand told CNBC's "Closing Bell" before the earnings were released.

Nike is one company that could do well in the holiday season into the next year, said Erinn Murphy, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. Investing in athletic brands like Nike is a way to play a lack of innovation in the apparel space, Murphy said.

Nike stock in 2015

— CNBC's Fred Imbert Reuters contributed to this story.

DISCLOSURE: Nike is an investment client of Citi. Citi owns more than 1 percent of Nike's stock. Citigroup Global markets owns a position of $1 million or more in debt securities of Nike.