Nike Inc.’s Mark Parker is playing the long game, focusing on broader industry evolution while trying to brush past weaker fourth-quarter profits.
The activewear giant’s fourth-quarter net income fell 2.2 percent to $846 million from $865 million a year earlier as revenues came in slightly lower than expected and North American clearance sales weighed on results. Nike is among the brands taking a hit by the Sports Authority liquidation.
Earnings per diluted share were flat at 49 cents — 1 cent ahead of the 48 cents Wall Street projected. And gross margins slipped 30 basis points to 45.9 percent of sales. Revenues for the three months ended May 31 increased 6 percent to $8.24 billion — $40 million shy of the $8.28 billion analysts projected.
Shares of the company dropped 6.4 percent to $49.68 in after-hours trading as investors digested the quarterly update.
For the full year, Nike’s earnings increased 14.9 percent to $3.76 billion as sales revenues gained 5.8 percent to $32.38 billion.
Parker, who is pushing to hit $50 billion in revenues by 2020, stood by the company’s long-term growth plans on a conference call with analysts, saying, “This is a key moment to look ahead. To focus on the opportunities in front of us.”
The company is currently gearing up for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio in August when it plans to highlight its Aeroswift technology in apparel, which offers more advanced wicking and stretching and will be showcased in the soccer, track and field and basketball events.
Nike has embraced sport as its lodestar.
“We are all seeing the growing power of sports,” Parker said. “Participation is increasing all over the world. People are leading healthier, more active lives. At the same time, the rise in sport culture is bringing fitness and style together. Profoundly influencing what we all wear every day.”
But Parker also alluded to the challenges in the market and promised Nike would push ahead.
“The backdrop of our business is more dynamic than it’s ever been,” he said. “But Nike wins because we just don’t adapt to these forces, we create and shape the change. We lead…. In retail, our industry is in the early stages of unprecedented transformation. Mobile innovation and personal services are dominating the landscape. That’s why we invest in integrating digital and physical retail seamlessly, giving our consumers better access to the products they want and while we are working even closer with our best wholesale partners, who share our vision for the future of retail.”
The ceo said the company has areas to work on, but is keeping the pressure on his team, noting, “nobody is more demanding of our business and we are internally.”
“While outside of Nike we face macroeconomic and geopolitical volatility, our complete offense gives us our greatest competitive advantage,” Parker said. “The complete offense puts the consumer at the center of our business.”
There was no mention on the call of the economic ripples from the U.K. vote to exit the European Union, which has injected a big does of uncertainty in the market. But Parker promised a “full pipeline of innovation” in this fiscal year with a broad growth agenda.
“Our focus will be to continue to drive our potential across North America and Western Europe, to expand our leadership in China and across our emerging markets, to unleash the power of the Jordan Brand across multiple categories, to accelerate our complete women’s business…. And specifically, how will we get there? We invest in the transformation of the marketplace through Nike.com and stronger executions with our best wholesale partners.”
As of the end of the year, the closely watched Nike brand future orders for footwear and apparel scheduled to be delivered in the June-November period totaled $14.9 billion, 8 percent higher than a year earlier or an 11 percent gain on currency neutral basis.