Nike's quarterly revenue increased 8% but the sales increase for the quarter wasn't as strong as analysts had expected.
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By Phil Wahba
September 25, 2014

Nike killed it last quarter. Business was up in every major market, in every category, both in its own stores and at wholesale.

Overall quarterly revenue rose 15% to $8 billion, compared with the same period last year, the company said on Thursday. It was the company’s biggest gain in the past year.

While the World Cup certainly helped, along with a long-awaited improvement to Nike’s China business, one key takeaway for the company was that women are increasingly important customers for the sportswear company.

Nike CEO Mark Parker told analysts on a conference call on Thursday that efforts to cater to women have been a big help like developing female-focus apps and regularly updating the selection of women’s products.

“Revenue for women’s grew at a strong double digit pace, as we focused on realizing the significant potential in this large and growing business,” Parker said.

The Nike+ training club app, which features dozens of workouts tailored to women, has been downloaded 17 million times, he said. And clothing like the sculpt tights for women (which are priced about the same as Lululemon Athletica’s (LULU) equivalents) has sold well.

A big trend that is working in Nike’s favor is the growing popularity of “athleisure,” essentially casual clothing that has an athletic look. Lululemon has led this trend, but Nike (NKE), VF Corp’s (VFC) Lucy and Gap’s (GPS) Athleta have jumped in in a big way too.

Another big bright spot for Nike was China, where revenue grew 20% when currency fluctuations are stripped out. For more than a year, the company had been saddled with excess merchandise in that market after misreading consumer demand and selling merchandise Chinese customers didn’t want. In Europe, where Nike has been eating Adidas’ lunch, sales rose 25%.

The positive results for the three months ending August 31 sent Nike’s shares up 5% in after-hours trading, putting it on pace to hit an all-time high during regular trading hours on Friday.

There are also signs Nike’s hot streak will continue. The company noted a 14% hike in advance orders, for merchandise to be delivered between now and January, well above the 10% Wall Street analysts expected, according to Consensus Matrix.

This story was corrected to reflect that the CEO’s given name is Mark, and not Mike.

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