Earnings Preview: Nike fiscal 3rd-quarter results

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nike Inc.'s fiscal third-quarter net income is expected to be down, despite higher revenue, as the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company sees its North American strength offset by weakness in Western Europe and slower sales growth in China.

Nike reports after the market closes on Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Nike has experienced a resurgence in North America, its largest market, helped by the popularity of its namesake Nike brand, basketball shoes and NFL gear.

That has been offset by Europe's weak economy and a slowdown in growth in China.

Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Christopher Svezia said gross margins — the amount of each dollar in revenue a company actually keeps — should have improved during the quarter and over the next few quarters as well. That should help results even if international sales continue to slow.

WHY IT MATTERS: Nike's results offer some insight into challenges facing the retail industry and also provide a glimpse at how much consumers worldwide are willing to spend, which is key to the global economic recovery.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, expect Nike to earn 67 cents per share on revenue of $6.20 billion for the December-to-February quarter.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: In its fiscal third quarter last year, Nike's net income totaled $1.20 per share on revenue of $5.85 billion.