(Reuters) - Nike Inc <NKE.N> enjoyed big sales in gains in North America and Europe last quarter and benefited from fewer markdowns, helping the maker of sports clothes and shoes report a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

Total revenue rose 7.7 percent to $6.97 billion, and global orders for delivery later this year, which the company calls "futures orders," rose 10 percent excluding currency impact, suggesting Nike's hot streak will continue.

Nike shares rose 5.7 percent to $74.35 in after-hours trading. Including those gains, shares are up 13.7 percent since the announcement earlier this month that Nike would join the Dow Jones industrial average.

Nike revenue in North America rose 9 percent, and in Western Europe, where many retailers have struggled with a pullback by consumers, sales grew 8 percent.

The company earned $780 million, or 86 cents a share, in its fiscal first quarter, ended August 31, compared with $567 million, or 63 cents a share, last year. Analysts expected a profit of 78 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Nike's gross margin rose 1.2 points to 44.9 percent of sales, helped by lower cotton costs and fewer markdowns. The company had forecast gross margin to be unchanged.

Futures orders for delivery between this month and January 2014 rose 12 percent in both Europe and North America.

In China, where Nike is grappling with excess inventory and intense competition from price-cutting rivals, sales fell 3 percent, but futures orders rose 2 percent.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

 

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