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Nike posts double-digit China growth despite trade dispute

Thomas Barrabi

Nike weathered ongoing international trade tensions in the first quarter, as strong sales growth in China and a vibrant direct-to-consumer business contributed to quarterly revenue and earnings results that topped Wall Street’s expectations.

The Oregon-based apparel giant said its sales in Greater China grew 27% to nearly $1.7 billion in the quarter, excluding currency changes, ahead of an expected $1.56 billion. Sales of footwear in the key region accounted for more than $1 billion of that total.

Nike executives said investments in e-commerce helped drive sales to $10.66 billion for the quarter, surpassing the $10.44 billion expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv. Adjusted earnings per share was 86 cents, which also topped projections.

“Our targeted strategic investments are accelerating NIKE’s digital transformation and extending our competitive advantage,” Nike CFO Andy Campion said in a statement. “Even amidst the increasingly volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical environment, we expect our unrelenting focus on better serving the consumer to continue fueling strong, broad-based growth across our global portfolio.”

Nike was one of several corporate leaders to protest President Trump’s implementation of further tariffs on China amid an ongoing trade dispute between the two countries. The latest round of duties affected footwear, apparel and other goods that are core to Nike’s business.

Sales growth in China outpaced Nike's efforts in all other regions. Sales in North America, Nike's biggest market, rose 4% to $4.3 billion.

Nike shares rose more than 5% after-hours on the earnings beat. The company has topped revenue expectations in 19 of the last 20 quarters.

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