Bloomberg

Nike Inc. (NKE - Get Report) shares were higher Friday after the world's biggest sports apparel company posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings as new digital drive boosted revenues at home and accelerated sales in key markets such as China abroad. 

Nike said earnings for the three months ended in November, the company's fiscal second quarter, came in at 52 cents a share, firmly ahead of the Street forecast of 46 cents and up 13% from the same period last year. Group revenues, Nike said, rose 10% to 9.4 billion, again topping Street forecast, as sales in China rose 26.5% to just over $1.54 billion thank in part to a 40% surge in Singles' Day activity. 

"The growth for Q2 was exceptional and we had a great start for Q3, with the largest product launch that we've ever had in our history. So that's a good signal right there," CEO Mark Parker told investors on a conference call late Thursday. "And then, we have more potential as we diversify the portfolio of product, particularly around the Woman's offense in both footwear and in apparel."

"So again we're actually quite bullish on the future opportunities and continued growth for Jordan in the second half and beyond as we move into fiscal '20," he added.

Nike shares rose 8.1% on Friday to $73.02.

Nike also said full year revenues could "potentially" approach the lower double-digit percentage range, with gross margins improving by around 70 basis points, up from a prior forecast of just over 50 basis points.

The bullish outlook was also support by comments hat suggested the company wasn't yet seeing any impact from the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, which threatens to escalate into a new round of levies on China-made goods that include clothing and apparel if a trade deal isn't reached by the spring of next year. 

"While there has been uncertainty of late regarding U.S., China relations, we have not seen any impact on our business," said CFO Andrew Champion. "NIKE continues to win with the consumer in China. For over three decades, NIKE has been a brand of China, for China. We've connected deeply with the consumer here through our key city focus on Shanghai and Beijing."

North American sales, too, were solid, rising 8.5% to $3.782 billion with double-digit growth in the struggling Jordan brand and a bust of digital sales over the Thanksgiving holiday that saw online transactions rise 30% from 2017.

"The marketplace in which we compete is highly dynamic. Consumer expectations are accelerating and the macro-economy is increasingly volatile," said Parker. "A key part of our strategy to win in this environment is to double down on digital. Our digital transformation is taking hold through a series of positive disruptions across the business."

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