September 26, 2018 / 1:00 PM / 2 months ago

Nike slips as sales outlook dampens investor enthusiasm

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Shares of Nike Inc fell 3 percent on Wednesday as the world’s largest sportswear maker stuck to its full-year forecast even after sales got a boost from a controversial ad campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The ad as well as Nike’s efforts to woo younger customers with its new Jordan and React sneakers and its World Cup jerseys had taken expectations to a fever pitch, with most investors and analysts hoping for a raise in its outlook.

The expectations were “elevated” going into earnings and a “conservative 2Q guide helped lead to a buying opportunity for a resurgent company that is solidly executing strategy,” Wedbush analyst Christopher Svezia said.

Shares of Nike, which have risen 35 percent this year, were down about $2 at $82.51 in premarket trading.

The company said on an earnings call on Tuesday the ad campaign, which included the Kaepernick ad and was meant to mark the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” slogan, was driving an uptick in traffic and “record” customer engagement.

The ad revived a raging debate in the United States that started in 2016 when Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling to protest multiple police shootings of unarmed black men.

Many protestors burned Nike shoes and called for a boycott of its products. Nike stock fell 3.2 percent, the day after the ad was launched.

In the weeks that followed, several analysts and marketing experts said they expected the new ad to create increased interest in the brand and bump sales.

Nike said it expects full-year revenue to rise in the in the lower end of a high single-digit range due to a stronger dollar.

For the first quarter, the Beaverton, Oregon-based company reported a 10 percent rise in revenue, beating analysts’ estimates. Its profit also came in above estimates despite higher commodity costs dampening margins.

Post earnings, Wall Street remained bullish with at least five analysts raising their price targets on the stock, with Morgan Stanley lifting it to a street high of $103. The median price target on the stock is $87.

“We advocate buying the dip as its margin expansion story remains in early innings,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note to clients. “NKE remains our top pick.”

The company’s strong fundamentals, market share gains in North America and exciting new products has kept Wall Street bullish, with 22 of 37 analysts rating its stock “buy” or higher.

In efforts to take back more market share from rival Adidas AG and newcomer Under Armour Inc, Nike has pushed hard with a slew of new product launches and a renewed focus on its digital platform.

“The underlying fundamentals or the building blocks of the story are still intact,” Svezia said. (Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru, Writing by Sweta Singh; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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