Strong sales growth in Europe, Asia and the Americas has helped Nike Inc, the world's leading sportswear company, to a 12% jump in fourth quarter profit.

For the three months to 31May, net income soared to $490.5m from $437.9m in the prior year period, and earnings per share rose 14% to $0.98 from $0.86.

Revenues for the quarter increased 16%, marking 27 consecutive quarters of year-on-year revenue growth the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said, rising to $5.1bn from $4.4bn for the same period last year.

"The power and strength of the Nike brand as well as the depth and diversity of the Nike Inc portfolio produced solid sales growth across all geographies and key product platforms," said Mark Parker, president and CEO.

Even though the strongest sales growth was seen in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas, the strength of the Nike brand in the US helped increase revenues here by 4% to $1.7bn.

US footwear revenues rose 6% to $1.1bn and apparel revenues were up 2% to $447.9m, but equipment revenues fell 15% to $78.2m.

European sales grew 19% to $1.5bn from $1.3bn in last year's quarter, with changes in currency exchange rates increasing revenue growth by 15 percentage points.

Footwear revenues in Europe were up 17% to $889.2m, apparel revenues grew by 22% to $531.1m, and equipment revenues increased 16% to $113.9m the company said.

The strongest quarterly sales growth was seen in the Asia Pacific region, where revenues soared 39% to $828.0m from $596.9m a year ago.

Growth here was driven by a 42% jump in footwear revenues to $422.0m and a 40% hike in apparel sales to $337.7m. Equipment revenues grew 14% to $68.3m.

In the Americas region, sales increased 30% to $306.6m, with footwear revenues up 19% to $202.1m, apparel revenues soaring 77% to $78.9m, and equipment revenues rising 22% to $25.6m.

Future orders of shoes and clothes for delivery between June and November rose 11% to $8.8bn. The strongest demand is seen in Asia Pacific and the Americas, where orders are up 31% and 30% respectively.

In its other businesses, which include Converse Inc, Nike Golf, Cole Haan, Nike Bauer Hockey, Hurley International LLC, and Umbro Ltd, forth quarter revenues grew 15% to $749.5m.

"By continuing to deliver compelling consumer experiences, backed by strong operational execution, we're confident we can deliver long-term profitable growth and create value for our shareholders," Parker added.
 
"Going forward we are going to play to those strengths and continue to invest in product innovation, deep brand connections, improved retail presentation, and operational effectiveness.

"Our focus is on working stronger, leaner and smarter through uncertain macroeconomic conditions to maximize our unique potential as a leader and innovator."

He continued: "As we complete fiscal 2008, we are better positioned than we ever have been."

For the full fiscal year, net income increased 26% to $1.9bn from $1.5bn the year before, and diluted earnings per share rose 28% to $3.74 from $2.93.

Annual revenues grew 14% to $18.6bn, compared to $16.3bn last year. US revenues rose 4% to $6.4bn, European sales grew 19% to $5.6bn, Asia Pacific revenues increased 26% to $2.9bn, and revenues for the Americas region grew 21% to $1.2bn.

For the fiscal year, other business revenues increased 15% to $2.6bn.