By Todd Horwitz 

Nike Posts Higher Sales

Nike Inc. posted a 10% jump in sales in the latest quarter, even after the sportswear giant decided to stop selling through Inc. and faced criticism for its support of disgraced running coach Alberto Salazar.

Revenue in the North American market, which accounts for the majority of Nike’s sales, rose 5% from a year ago. The gains were driven by footwear, as apparel sales were flat. The fastest-growing region was Greater China, where revenue jumped 20% from a year ago.

Executives said apparel sales were flat in North America because of the boost that business got a year earlier, when basketball star and Nike endorser LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers, lifting sales of his jerseys. Nike has the exclusive rights to make National Basketball Association jerseys.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of this company,” CEO Mark Parker said. Net income rose to $1.12 billion, or 70 cents a share, in the second quarter ended Nov. 30, from $847 million, or 52 cents per share, a year ago. That was better than the 58 cents analysts were expecting, based on Refinitiv data.

Revenue was up about 10% to $10.33 billion from $9.37 billion a year ago, beating expectations for $10.09 billion. Nike said it saw strength across all geographies. And it said digital sales were up a whopping 38%, thanks to a boost at the start of the holiday shopping season. It said online sales surged more than 70% in North America on Black Friday.

Nike said footwear sales in North America, excluding any impacts from currency changes, were up 8% during the latest period, while apparel sales rose 1% and equipment sales were up 6%. Total sales in Greater China, excluding currency impact, grew 23% to $1.85 billion, topping estimates for $1.80 billion. Nike has said the Greater China region remains one of its greatest opportunities for growth moving forward, despite the civil unrest in Hong Kong and an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz