Nike, the world's largest footwear maker, reported a better-than-expected profit for the eighth quarter in a row as it sold more high-margin shoes and apparel at higher prices, and posted a surprise rise in growth of "futures orders".

The company also raised its sales growth forecast for the current fiscal year, helping send its shares up 3.3 percent to $108.70 in extended trading on Thursday. Nike's orders for delivery from June through November, a gauge of demand it calls "futures orders", rose 13 percent excluding currency fluctuations at the end of the fourth quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting futures orders growth to slow to 10.4 percent from 11 percent at the end of the third quarter, according to Consensus Metrix.

"Extremely impressive across the board," said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough. "It's almost mind-boggling how a company this big can post numbers this impressive year in and year out."

Yarbrough attributed Nike's growth to trendy products and a lack of strong competition.

Nike's higher-margin Jordan, LeBron and Kobe basketball shoe brands have been especially popular in the United States, making it the company's fastest growing footwear business.

Sales of running shoes, Nike's biggest footwear business, rose in the quarter, easing concerns of slowing demand.

Nike said sales of higher priced merchandise and growth in its direct-to-consumer business helped boost gross margins 60 basis points in the fourth quarter ended May 31.

The same factors are expected to boost margins by 50 basis points in the current quarter, Chief Financial Officer Don Blair said on a conference call.

Nike has been hiking investments in its DTC business, which includes sales though company-owned stores and the internet. The business grew 27 percent in the quarter.

The company's net income rose 24 percent to $865 million, or 98 cents per share. Revenue rose 4.8 percent to $7.78 billion.

Revenue from North America, Nike's largest market, rose 13 percent, mostly due to higher sales of footwear and apparel. Footwear sales, the largest source of revenue for Nike, rose 8.6 percent.

Nike said it now expects sales, excluding currency fluctuations, to grow in the low double digit percentage range in the current fiscal year. The company had previously forecast growth to be slightly above high single digits.