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Earnings Outlook: Nike earnings preview: Shift in demand and a pullback from Foot Locker could hurt results


Nike Inc. is looking down at the heel, according to Seaport Research Partners, which downgraded the athletic giant to neutral from buy heading into fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, scheduled to be announced on June 27.

“We don’t believe an above-normal premium valuation is currently justified for three main reasons,” wrote Mitch Kummetz, senior analyst at Seaport, in a note published Wednesday.

“First, we believe consumer demand has shifted from athletic to nonathletic, which is a less-than-optimal backdrop for Nike. Second, we believe that demand has slipped for some of Nike’s key franchises, which could weigh on the performance of some of its bigger categories. “

The final reason has to do with the company’s

decision to focus on direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, pulling back from many chains, including DSW, a Designer Brands Inc.

chain, and Foot Locker

“Third, while we believe Nike’s wholesale distribution rationalization has its merits, it is leaving a void with some retailers, namely Foot Locker, which could provide some of Nike’s competitors with a platform to gain relevance and take market share.”

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BTIG says they are seeing signs of declining demand in North America, adding to troubles experienced in China from COVID-related lockdowns and supply chain disruptions.

“By category, we believe both apparel and footwear have slowed, potentially signaling consumer fatigue online post the stimulus-driven buying spree consumers went on last year,” wrote analysts led by Camilo Lyon.

“That said, not all is dire, as retailers that have been starved for inventory are getting it, and seemingly selling through it. Given Nike’s loud push to accelerate its DTC mix, slowing direct sales into a potential recession does not bode well for the F23 outlook, in our opinion.”

BTIG rates Nike stock neutral.

Nike has an average stock rating of overweight, according to 31 analysts polled by FactSet. Nike has an average target price of $151.36.

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Here are a few more things to watch for when Nike announces its earnings:

Earnings: The FactSet consensus is for earnings per share of 81 cents, down from 93 cents last year.

Nike has beat the FactSet consensus the last seven quarters.

Estimize, , which crowdsources estimates from sell-side and buy-side analysts, hedge-fund managers, executives, academics and others, forecasts EPS of 90 cents.

Sales: The FactSet consensus is for sales of $12.070 billion, down from $12.344 billion last year.

Nike has beaten the FactSet sales consensus the past two quarters.

The Estimize outlook is for sales of $12.228 billion.

Stock price: Nike stock is down 35.2% for the year to date. The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 20.4%.

Other items:

-Not all analyst groups are negative. Wedbush, for instance, thinks the stock pullback is a buying opportunity when considering factors like the upcoming World Cup event and comparisons with last year’s Vietnam facility shutdowns.

Wedbush rates Nike stock outperform with a $139 price target.

And Baird maintained its outperform stock rating, but lowered its price target to $150 from $165.

“While still very early to comment, several global brands [that] attended Baird’s Global CTS Conference during early June noted positive signs initially following the Shanghai reopening, with Crocs, On Holding, and Skechers (not covered) signaling somewhat better-than-expected results thus far (even though traffic still remains lower),” Baird said.

Credit Suisse maintained its outperform stock rating and lowered its price target to $130 from $165.

“Nike’s global trends were likely worse than expected in FQ4 due to much tougher China lockdowns than the company implied in its guidance,” wrote Credit Suisse.

“That said, while our checks show that the global supply chain remains very tough, consumer demand for the brand remains very strong, and we think Nike has been pushing harder to get inventory out to end markets in the U.S. and Europe to help offset transitory sluggish China trends in the quarter.”

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-Nike is better able to handle a possible recession. Bank of America and Wedbush both highlight Nike’s performance during the most recent recession. Bank of America economists say there’s a 40% chance of a recession.

“To be clear, we view this magnitude of multiple compression as extremely unlikely given Nike’s relative fundamental outperformance during the past two recessions and transformation since 2008,” Bank of America analysts wrote.

“Over the past five years, Nike has become more innovative, has posted more consistent growth than peers and its direct-to-consumer shift has improved margins and inventory visibility.

Bank of America rates Nike stock neutral with a $122 price objective.

Wedbush points out that “Nike’s peak-to-trough stock decline during the ‘Great Recession’ [of 2007 to 2009] was the best of any company” in the group’s coverage.

-A new law to combat forced labor could be a problem for clothing and shoe companies. Cowen analysts note the June 21 enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, prohibits items imported from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China or produced by certain entities. Cowen notes that about 19% of global cotton production is in this area.

“There must be clear and convincing evidence that the goods, wares, articles, or merchandise were not produced using forced labor,” wrote Cowen.

“Enforcement is expected to be systemic — if it meets the criteria (which has not been made public), the goods will be detained at the port, which makes it challenging for the apparel and footwear industry to navigate in an already highly disruptive supply chain environment and where sentiment among Chinese consumers for Western brands has been less favorable in the past 12 months.”

Cowen rates Nike stock outperform with a $133 price target.

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