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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 23:46 GMT
Nike profits grow by a third
Nike shoes
The US footwear market is Nike's biggest business
Nike, the US sports clothing giant, has reported a 31% rise in its profits for the three months to the end of February.

The high-profile brand netted profits of $126m, compared to $97m in the same three months a year ago.

But sales were only marginally up - rising 4% to $2.3bn.

The group said that it had trimmed its global inventory by about 5% over the last 12 months, putting it in a better postion for the year ahead.

Nike's chairman, Phil Knight, said that the Winter Olympics had helped Nike's advertising campaign to take hold.

And an expansion into Tiger Woods-endorsed golf clubs also boosted the group's bottom line.

Feet first

Furthermore, the group claims that it has successfully turned around its largest business - US footwear sales.

Analysts have repeatedly stressed that Nike must improve its domestic sales of trainers to achieve renewed growth after a flat period in the late 1990s.

Shoe sales in the US market increased by 7% to $784m during the three months, causing the Mr Knight to declare that a turnaround had been achieved.

But investors were not convinced, and Nike shares fell 73 cents to close at $63.2 on the New York Stock Exchange.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Business
Nike sees earnings grow
28 Jun 01 | Business
Nike sales rebound
18 Apr 01 | Business
Nike foot-and-mouth warning
27 Feb 01 | Business
Nike shares fall 17%
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nike admits abuse at Indonesian plants
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