Strong overseas sales, improved margins and inventory controls helped athletic footwear and apparel maker Nike Inc to an 18 per cent jump in second quarter earnings.

Net income in the three-months ended 30 November was $152 million, or 57 cents a share, up from $129.3 million, or 48 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 7.6 per cent to $2.51 billion from $2.34 billion.

These figures helped offset a decline in US sales, which dropped 8 per cent to $1 billion, and the Americas region, where revenues fell 13 per cent.

In the European region, however, which also includes the Middle East and Africa, revenue grew 35 per cent to $781 million. Asia-Pacific saw revenue gains of 14 per cent to $353 million.

"While US orders were down this quarter as we expected, we are pleased with the worldwide strength of our brand and believe that the realignment of our US distribution will only enhance our business and our brand going forward," Nike chairman and chief executive Philip Knight said in a statement.

For the first time in its history, the company, famous for its Air Jordan sneakers and Cole Haan shoes, is now doing more business outside the US. The company said worldwide futures orders - orders for athletic footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery between December and April - rose 2.4 per cent to $3.9 billion.

"Our international businesses continue to show strength as futures orders outside the US increased 8 per cent," Philip Knight said.

"While US orders were down this quarter as we expected, we are pleased with the worldwide strength of our brand and believe that the realignment of our US distribution will only enhance our business and our brand going forward."

Nike's US sales have been hurt by a drop in orders from its largest customer, Foot Locker Inc, which earlier this week said it was cutting back even further on purchases from Nike.