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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nike profits jump with tax deal, growth in Asia

By William McCall
Associated Press

BEAVERTON, Ore. Nike Inc. said yesterday that sales growth in Asia and a tax agreement with the Dutch government helped boost earnings 8 percent in the second quarter for the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company.

Profits rose to $325.6 million, or $1.28 per share, from $301.1 million, or $1.14 per share, a year ago.

Nike said 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 percent 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 percent.

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 percent of total revenue," he 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 percent increase in revenue, is clearly the driver there."

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

Parker noted that growth was strongest in Asia overall, but revenue increased even more dramatically in China, up more than 30 percent.

Nike shares rose $3.59, or 3.7 percent, to close at $99.78 on the New York Stock Exchange before the earnings were reported. They fell 4 cents in after-hours trading.