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Nike sinks after sales slowdown suggests it’s losing share

Nike Inc. tumbled the most in 19 months after third-quarter sales missed estimates, renewing concern that the long-dominant athletic brand is losing market share to Adidas AG and Under Armour Inc.

Revenue rose 5 per cent to $8.43-billion, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company said after the market closed on Tuesday. Analysts estimated $8.47 billion, on average.

Under Armour and a resurgent Adidas have been grabbing market share from Nike, especially in the U.S. That’s led investors to sour on the stock, which had its first annual decline in eight years last year. And last quarter’s results only reinforced Nike’s woes as North American sales rose just 3 per cent. Executives on a conference call didn’t provide much reason for optimism, either. Worldwide futures orders, excluding the effects of currency fluctuations, fell 1 percent, the first drop since 2009. Analysts had predicted a 3.4-per-cent gain.

Nike shares slid as much as 6.5 percent to $54.23 on Wednesday, the biggest intraday decline since Aug. 24, 2015. They had dropped 10 percent in the past year through Tuesday’s close.

“This quarter doesn’t give any further confidence that they can get back to” sales growth rates of the past, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst for Edward Jones. “They are going to have to get North America growing north of 3 per cent again.”

Nike’s profit rose to 68 cents a share in the three months ended Feb. 28. Analysts projected 53 cents. Still, its gross margin, another key metric of profitability, narrowed by 1.4 percentage points. Thats’ more than the contraction of 1 point to 1.25 points that Chief Financial Officer Andrew Campion projected on a conference call in December.

High Expectations

Nike set high expectations in October 2015 when it forecast annual sales would hit $50-billion by the end of fiscal 2020, a little more than three years from now. That projection equated to it maintaining annual growth rates of 10 per cent. But it hasn’t reached that level since.

A lot has changed since Nike made that forecast. In January, President Donald Trump exited a trade deal that Nike publicly advocated for because it would have cut its costs. Competition has also only gotten more fierce. Fashion is currently stuck on the so-called “athleisure” trend in which sporty gear is being worn more often. While that’s been good for Nike, it’s also revived Adidas and brought an influx of brands into the category.

Nike’s 2020 projection depended on doubling its women’s business to $11-billion. That area has been especially vibrant with non-sports brands and retailers like Old Navy introducing athleisure lines.