Nike should focus on tackling competition from upstart brands – analysts

By Savyata Mishra and Aishwarya Venugopal

(Reuters) -Nike needs to get creative to stay ahead of growing competition from fresher sneaker brands such as On and Hoka, analysts said on Friday, after the sportswear giant’s full-year sales forecast cut sent shares tumbling 10%.

The Air Jordan 1 shoe maker mainly blamed cautious consumer spending for the downbeat forecast on Thursday and laid out a $2 billion cost-saving program, signaling a shift in strategy to focus on profitability over sales growth.

The news sent shares of rivals Adidas and Puma down roughly 5% each, while Lululemon and Under Armour fell about 1% and 4%, respectively.

“Nike needs increased and improved marketing investments while HOKA, On and Lululemon are scaling further with increased customer acquisition and retention,” TD Cowen analysts said after downgrading the stock to “market perform” from “outperform”.

The company also unveiled plans to simplify its product assortment, increase automation, and scale product innovation in the women’s and Jordan categories, as well as on products priced below $100, particularly in the running category.

“I think it makes sense for them to focus on fewer number of products that can resonate stronger with consumers. And doing so will help them not only manage their inventory, but also their profitability,” Raymond James analyst Rick Patel said.

At least six brokerage cut their price target on Nike and two downgraded the stock.

“While we think this (cost-saving plan) is a positive shift, it will take time to scale newness and innovation, and a soft macro will further pressure results in the meantime,” Piper Sandler’s Abbie Zvejnieks said. The brokerage cut its price target to $107 from $112.

Nike shares, which have risen about 5% this year, were trading at $109.65. Its forward price-to-earnings ratio for the next 12 months, a common benchmark for valuing stocks, was 30.01, compared with Adidas’ 44.48.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal and Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Devika Syamnath)