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Nike profit rises 22 percent

NEW YORK Nike Inc. (NKE), the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company, announced Thursday a 22 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits as strength in North America offset weakness in Europe and China.

Like most global companies, Nike has had to deal with Europe's fluctuating economy and a slowdown in growth in China. It has worked to reduce its inventory in China and refigured its offerings there to adapt to the changing tastes of Chinese customers. It also has also focused on growth in North America, selling off less profitable brands like Umbro to focus on core brands like Nike.

The company said Thursday it earned $668 million, or 76 cents per share, in the three-month period ended May 31. That compares with $549 million, or 60 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue increased 7 percent to $6.7 billion from $6.24 billion.

Analysts had expected 74 cents per share on revenue of $6.63 billion, according to FactSet.

During the fourth quarter, the company's revenue under the Nike brand rose 8 percent, with growth across each product type and region except Western Europe and Greater China. The Nike brand revenue was higher in running, basketball, men's-training and women's-training products, offsetting slight declines in sportswear, action sport and soccer.

Inventories rose 7 percent year over year. Future orders for the Nike brand were up 8 percent at quarter's end.

Shares of Nike rose more than 3 percent, or $1.98, to $64.30, in after-hours trading after edging up 47 cents to $62.32 in regular trading. The fourth-quarter results were released after the market closed. Shares have traded from $42.55 to $66.07 over the past 52 weeks.

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