Nike Inc , the largest global sporting gear maker, posted a net profit that beat analysts' expectations, helped by fewer clearance sales of merchandise and improving sales around the world.

Net income in the third quarter ended February 28 was $496 million or $1.01 cents per share, double the $244 million or 50 cents per share in the year-earlier period, when a $241 million charge related to its Umbro acquisition crimped profit.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 89 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Excluding the year-ago charge, net income would have increased 2 percent, the company said.

Revenue jumped 7 percent to $4.7 billion. Excluding currency fluctuations, revenue edged up 2 percent.

Nike is gearing up for the World Cup in South Africa this year, and investing more in marketing to lure soccer fans to spend. The company has said that sales would revive in 2010 after a year of sluggish business in mature markets and even fast-growing markets like China.

Shares rose 3.1 percent to $73.10 after closing at $70.88 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)