Nike surges after results top expectations and retailer shows inventory progress

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Nike on Tuesday reported quarterly results that easily topped Wall Street’s expectations while raising its outlook, as the company touted its success in clearing through its hefty inventory pile.

Shares of Nike rose more than 10% Wednesday.

Here’s how Nike did in its second fiscal quarter compared with what Wall Street was anticipating, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 85 cents vs. 64 cents expected
  • Revenue: $13.32 billion vs. $12.57 billion expected

The company reported net income for the three-month period ended November 30 was $1.33 billion, or 85 cents per share, compared with $1.34 billion, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier.

Nike reported revenue of $13.32 billion, up 17% from $11.36 billion a year earlier.

Considering the strong performance, Nike Chief Financial Officer Matt Friend said on an earnings call that the company now sees its revenue growing for the full fiscal year.

Over the past three quarters, Nike has beaten Wall Street’s expectations, but like other retailers, has struggled with inflated inventory levels that arose from supply chain disruptions, rising consumer demand and unpredictable in-transit shipping times.

Inventories were up 43% to $9.3 billion in the quarter, compared to last year. The merchandise glut led to aggressive markdowns, which helped reduce Nike’s gross margin to 42.9% from 45.9% a year ago. However, inventories declined from $9.7 billion in the previous quarter. Nike CEO John Donahoe said he believes the company is already past its inventory peak. Gross margins are expected to decline by two percentage points to 2.5 percentage points next quarter as liquidation efforts continue, Friend said.

The company also saw a 10% year-over-year uptick in selling and administrative expenses to $4.1 billion, mostly led by advertising and marketing costs and investment in Nike Direct as the company continues to move away from wholesalers. The company expects those costs to increase by high single digits next quarter as well.

While the focus on Nike Direct was largely to blame for the increased administrative expenses, the investment has paid off. Nike Direct sales were up 16% for the quarter at $5.4 billion and digital sales were up 25%. Nike executives touted record growth in the brand’s digital membership platform as a “key reason” behind the online sales jump. Shoppers who became members were able to take advantage of several Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.

For the last several quarters, wholesale revenue has been effectively flat but was up 19% for the quarter. Nike executives said sales were stronger to wholesalers during the quarter because they finally had the inventory available to sell to them after supply chain constraints.

Nike’s sales in China, its third biggest market by revenue, dropped by 3% compared to last year, continuing a trend the retailer has been contending with as the country deals with lingering Covid lockdowns and a slowdown in retail spending. Overall retail sales in the country fell by 5.9% in November compared to a year ago and clothes and shoe sales plunged by 15.6%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China.

After earnings from Nike’s fiscal first quarter were released in September, executives said the company’s inventory had grown 65% over the last year in North America alone and as a result, the company enacted an aggressive promotional strategy to liquidate the merchandise and make way for new products.

The plan was a key part of Nike’s strategy to shift its sales directly to consumers and away from wholesalers by improving the in-store experience and enticing customers to shop directly from the company online.

On Friday, Nike announced its new “Jordan World of Flight Milan” store located on Via Torino, a famed shopping district in the Italian locale well known for its designer shoe stores.

The initiative reflects the steps Nike is taking to grow the company as a direct-to-consumer brand.

The store, called a “first-of-its-kind retail experience” by the company in a news release, has a built-in members lounge and will include interactive shopping experiences tailored to fans of the renowned sneaker brand.

Read the company’s earnings release here.


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