Earnings rose 57% in Nike's ( NKE) third quarter from a year ago, as the company leveraged better margins to a 21% jump in year-over-year sales. The sneaker and sportswear company earned $200.3 million, or 74 cents a share, in the quarter ended Feb. 29, compared with earnings of $124.7 million, or 47 cents a share, last year. Revenue was $2.90 billion in the latest quarter compared with $2.40 billion last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics were forecasting earnings of 73 cents a share in the most recent quarter. Gross margin rose 140 basis points to 42.1% in the period. In Nike's biggest region, the U.S., revenue rose 4% to $1.17 billion in the latest quarter compared with last year, with athletic footwear revenue up 1% to $772.8 million and clothes revenue up 7% to $329.3 million. Equipment revenue increased 13 percent to $67.4 million. Future orders for products deliverable in the current quarter totaled $4.7 billion at the end of the quarter, up 9.9% from a year ago. About four percentage points of the increase was attributable to currency exchange rates. By region, futures orders for the U.S. were up 4.5%, for Europe they were up 11%, for Asia Pacific they were up 23%, and for the Americas they were up 11%.