A man walks in front of a Nike products exhibit, on February 22, 2021 in New York City.

John Smith | Corbis News | Getty Images

Nike on Thursday reported higher third-quarter profits even though sales growth was hurt by widespread port congestion in the United States and ongoing store closures in Europe.

Although the global health crisis still leaves an overhang of uncertainty, Nike said it anticipates lockdowns will start to ease in Europe in April, and delivery windows will slowly improve in North America through the remainder of the year.

Its shares were down more than 2% in after-hours trading.

Here’s how Nike did during the quarter ended Feb. 28, compared with what analysts were expecting, based on a survey by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 90 cents vs. 76 cents expected
  • Revenue: $10.36 billion vs. $11.02 billion expected

Nike reported net income of $1.45 billion, or 90 cents per share, compared with $847 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier. That was better than the 76 cents per share that analysts were expecting, based on Refinitiv data.

Total sales rose to $10.36 billion from $10.1 billion a year earlier. That was lower than the $11.02 billion forecast by analysts.

In North America, revenue dropped 10% year over year, hurt by shipment delays that Nike said have been dragging on for more than three weeks. That also meant sales at its wholesale partners were affected, as businesses such as department stores and sporting goods outlets didn’t receive goods on time. They’ll likely now need to discount some of that merchandise to make space on the shelf for more in-season styles.

Backlogged West Coast ports, a global container shortage, and a truck driver shortage in the U.S. continue to be headaches for businesses from Nordstrom to Urban Outfitters to Peloton. Many have said they expect these issues to drag on until the second half of the year.

In its Europe, Middle East and Africa region, Nike said, sales at its brick-and-mortar retail stores dropped due to pandemic-related closures and restrictions while digital sales in those markets grew 60% in the latest period. It said about 60% of its stores in the region are open today, with some operating on reduced hours.

In Greater China, a region that is further along in recovering from the pandemic, sales climbed 51%.

Nike offered an outlook for the current quarter and fiscal year that anticipates inventory transit times will improve slowly across North America from here and lockdowns will ease across Europe come April.

It’s forecasting fiscal 2021 revenue to rise by a low-to-mid-teens percentage from the prior year. Analysts had been calling for full-year revenue growth of 15.9%, according to Refinitiv.

Fourth-quarter sales are expected by the company to be up 75% year over year, as the company laps a period when 90% of its owned stores were shut due to the pandemic. Analysts had been looking for growth of 64.3%.

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