Nike Inc. gained ground in the latest lap (with a boost from women’s apparel), but Wall Street is looking ahead to the next leg of the race.
The company’s first quarter net profits rose 6 percent to $1.25 billion, or 73 cents a diluted share, from $1.18 billion, or 67 cents, a year earlier. And revenues for the three months ended Aug. 31 increased 8 percent to $9.06 billion from $8.41 billion.
Although profits handily topped expectations — earnings per share were 17 cents ahead of the 56 cents expected by analysts — future orders were up but disappointing.
The sportswear giant said it’s closely watched worldwide futures orders were up 5 percent, or 7 percent excluding the impact of currency fluctuations. Analysts were generally looking for more. Credit Suisse’ Christian Buss, for instance, expected future orders to be up 9 to 10 percent.
That shortfall helped push the stock down 4.2 percent to $53 in after-hours trading on Wall Street today.
Still Mark Parker, chairman, president and chief executive officer, played his usual role as head of the pep squad on a conference call with analysts, even as he referred to an influx of new competition.
“The look of sport to continues to influence every day styles around the world. As a result new brands are entering into the athletic landscape,” Parker said. “The activewear market continues to outpace the overall apparel and footwear markets, which itself continues to outpace global GDP growth. It’s a great time to be in the business of sport and as the market leader, this is a great time to be Nike. We are on the front end of all this growth a driving force behind the can expanding market. We not only see the upside across the landscape, we have both the scale and the skill to act on it.”
Parker specifically pointed to women’s sportswear as a standout for the brand during the quarter, with the Dynamic Reveal Jacket among the most successful styles, along side running tops, shorts and tights.
Nike said profits in the quarter were driven by strong revenue growth, operating overhead leverage, a lower tax rate and fewer shares outstanding, the effects of all of which were partially offset by gross margins declines as the company spent to create demand around the Olympics.
Gross margins declined 200 basis points during the quarter, to 45.5 percent of sales.
Nike is following ambitious dreams. Parker last year set the company on a course designed to take it to $50 billion in sales by the end of 2020, up from $32.4 billion last year.