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Nike Still Setting the Pace

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With shares of Nike (NKE - Get Report) soaring to new all-time highs following the company's strong fiscal first-quarter earnings report, it's hard to believe there was ever a point in the not-so-distant past when the Street seemed too fixated on the company's struggles in Europe and China. However, as I've noted here and here, despite these obstacles, Nike very rarely (if ever) trips over its own feet. And it was only a matter of time before management cleared the hurdles with more innovation and product development.

Today, with China showing modest growth improvements, combined with strong acceleration in Nike's futures, the athletic-wear giant, which has never struggled with market share, is poised to recapture any margin leverage it has lost. And if the company's recent results serve as indication, investors who've been waiting patiently on the sidelines for this stock to fall down to fair value are going to be very disappointed.

Unlike at any point during this past fiscal year, Nike's first-quarter results made me wonder "What China problem?" This is the same question that rivals like Under Armour (UA) and Adidas (ADDYY) are asking today since they could never truly capitalize on Nike's slowdown. While Nike hasn't completely solved the economic headwinds in China, management has been working hard not only to reduce the company's inventory, but also adjust to the new buying trends of Chinese consumers.

In that regard, given the 38% growth in net income, which beat Street estimates by 8 cents a share, it's safe to say that Nike's management continues to pull all of the right strings. Revenue, meanwhile, advanced 8% year over year, helped by robust growth in North America. For that matter, except for China, where revenue declined 3% (excluding currency impacts), Nike saw growth in every other region.
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