Skechers USA Inc. (SKX - Get Report) shares traded sharply higher Friday, to test the highest levels in nine months, after a big boost in international sales lifted the footwear group to stronger-than-expected fourth quarter profits.

Skechers said earnings for the three months ending in December came in at 31 cents per share, swinging from a loss of 43 cents per share over the same period last year and topping the Street consensus forecast by 8 cents. Group sales, Skechers said, jumped 11.4% to just over $1.08 billion, thanks to an 18.4% gain for its international wholesale business, while gross margins improved by nearly 100 basis point to 47.7%.

Looking into the first quarter of this year, Skechers said it sees diluted earnings of between 70 cents and 75 cents per share, well ahead of the Refinitiv forecast of 65 cents, with sales in the region of $1.275 billion to $1.3 billion.

"With the strength of our products, we remain the number one lifestyle casual, dress casual, walking and work brand in the United States," said CEO Robert Greenberg. "We also focused on growing our online business around the world-improving the functionality of our e-commerce sites in the United States and China, and launching an e-commerce platform in India, while also increasing our global retail footprint."

Skechers shares were marked 15.4% higher in the opening minutes of trading Friday to change hands at $32.22 each, a move that would lift the stock into a 10.2% three-month gain and take it back to levels last seen in April 2018.