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Crusher quarter from the Nikester – ironically on one of the worst market days in a decade.

We were at $1.30 vs. the Street at $1.21 – and Nike’s $1.36 came in spot-on with our EBIT forecast, with a (sustainable) lower tax rate and shares outstanding making up the difference. Revenue was slightly stronger, offset by slightly higher SG&A – but that’s splitting hairs.

What we like is that revenue strength -- +17% (+13% constant currency) – came from the broadest cross section we can recall seeing in a while. Virtually all regions, both genders, and all key product categories performed extremely well. Recall that the crux of our Black Book (Nike: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way) revolved around the company’s investments in recent years paying off in far greater magnitude and duration than is currently perceived to be the case. Women, Apparel and Retail all stepped up their game, which was also key to our call.

All things considered, the quarter – while outstanding – was right in line with our expectation.

A couple of points…

  1. Growth: We took our estimate – which was already $0.40 above the Street for the year at $5.20 – to $5.34. Next year we’re at $6.72, and then $7.87 for FY14. In the end we’re looking for 22% CAGR in earnings growth for the next three years. That’s tough to find for a $40bn market cap company.
     
  2. Irony: Six months ago, investors freaked out when NKE issued its downbeat gross margin forecast for 4Q11 and 1Q12 (both of which have been reported) and basically took rolled their EPS estimates back by a full year. Now, they’re rolling forward by a year. And guess what? They’ll still be too low…
     
  3. Repo: We’re liking the repo trend at Nike. This is the second consecutive quarter where shares outstanding were down 1% sequentially. Keep in mind that one of the greatest risks with Nike is the widening of the spread between RNOA and ROE (high class problem). They’ve been managing that better over the past few quarters through returning cash to shareholders than we’ve seen in a while.
     
  4. Basketball: By the fourth question in Q&A about a potential NBA strike, I was downright bummed that so much of management’s real estate was wasted on this topic by the sell side.  Consider this…
    1. Don’t look at Nike as the big loser in the event of a strike. That distinction belongs to VFC (major NBA licensee – Jerseys, etc…) and Genesco (Hat World, Lids). Nike does not sell officially sanctioned NBA product.
       
    2. True, basketball is a big business for Nike. It accounts for 44% of US footwear sales (running = 30%, Casual = 15%, training = 5%). But, and this is a BIG but, only 15% of basketball sales are seasonal. What does that mean? If you straight- line category sales over the course of the year at levels experienced in the off-season, and then looked at the incremental gain in-season. That amounts to about $750mm in annual revs on Nike’s base of $24bn.
       
    3. Of that $750bn, don’t think for a minute that it’s all a risk. With players not on the court, you can rest assured that they’ll be on the road supporting Nike marketing campaigns around basketball. Remember, they won’t be getting paid to play, so instead they’ll be getting paid to sell.  
       
    4. As for the basketball business outside the US – its less than half the proportion of total sales than it is here in the US. Do you think that people in Eastern Europe or China care if there’s an NBA season? Some probably do, but not likely to put a big dent in the business. Also keep in mind that basketball futures are up dd, and the buyers at retail placed those orders knowing full well that a strike is looming.
       
    5. Bottom line – I’m not worried.

NKE: ...for all the right reasons. - 9 22 2011 9 29 49 PM