Riding high on its "Write the Future" world football campaign, Nike executives announced that fourth-quarter profits came in strong and say its proactive strategy throughout the recession is paying off in a big way.
"I said a year ago that Nike is not a 'wait and see' company, and we weren't about to let our core strengths sit idle," Mark Parker, president and CEO, said in the earnings conference call, which was webcast. "Because we stayed on offense, we delivered a strong year in a tough global economy, and we're stronger financially than we've ever been."
The Beaverton, Ore.-based company says revenues gained 8% to $5.1 billion (a 4% gain, excluding currency changes). Earnings came in at $522 million, a 53% gain from $341 million a year ago. Global futures orders for Nike brand footwear and apparel, scheduled for delivery from June through November of this year, total $8.8 billion -- 7% higher than the same period last year.
"But those numbers don't show the momentum we've gained, in a period when our competitors have weakened," he says. "And we remain highly opportunistic across all our markets."
Fueled by a little extra enthusiasm from the U.S.'s win against Algeria, Parker told investors that "Nike's presence in global football is truly inspiring, and proves strong competition makes us better, and that we thrive on it," he says, adding that revenue on Nike football was up 39% in the quarter, even before the World Cup started.
"Our 'Write the Future' football campaign is the most complete, innovative and creative project we've ever done, and we've got more excitement on the ground than anybody else in the game."
"Recognition and awareness of the campaign has exceeded even our high expectations," added Nike brand president Charlie Denson, "online, on the ground, and on TV around the world." He says nearly half of World Cup players are wearing Nike footwear -- "more than twice our nearest competitor."
Earlier this week, the company expanded its "Write the Future" effort with a massive "Write the Headline" campaign display, giving fans an opportunity to submit messages for is digital display, splayed across one of the largest buildings in downtown Johannesburg. (Fans submit a 57-character personal message through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.)
Nike says other strengths in the quarter include running, especially its Free concept, apparel, and women's training, and that the company's other brands, including Converse, Cole Haan and Umbro, contributed a record percentage of revenues.